The husband of a woman who was drunk and high when she killed herself and seven others in a wrong-way crash on a New York parkway said Thursday she rarely drank and is not an alcoholic.
Citing toxicology reports, police contend that Diane Schuler downed more than 10 vodkas and smoked marijuana before her minivan crashed into an SUV on July 26. Her 2-year-old daughter and three nieces were killed with her, along with three men driving in the SUV. Schuler's 5-year-old son survived.
But Daniel Schuler said that doesn't add up.
"I go to bed every night and my heart is clear. She is not an alcoholic," he told reporters Thursday. "She didn't drink."
His lawyer, Dominic Barbara, said 36-year-old Diane Schuler was diabetic and may have suffered a stroke before the tragic wreck north of New York City. He says she also had a mouth abscess for several weeks and a bump on her leg.
Schuler's husband said he never saw her drunk since the day he met her.
A second autopsy is a possibility in the case. Daniel Schuler and his attorney previously said they may want her body exhumed, but Barbara said they are still weighing that option.
"We have not yet decided to have a new autopsy," said Barbara. "We don't know."
Barbara told reporters that Diane and Daniel were not in the process of splitting up.
"They were not getting divorced, they were not having marital problems," Barbara told reporters. "She was not an alcoholic. She was not drunk."
Cooperation from the Schuler family has been "limited thus far," state police Lt. Dominick Chiumento said.
Daniel Schuler has thus far not commented on toxicology reports that found his wife — a 36-year-old cable television executive and mother — had a blood alcohol level more than twice the state's legal limit and had more than 10 drinks and smoked marijuana shortly before the crash.
But he has said that she didn't appear intoxicated before she began her trip. A co-owner of the campground Diane Schuler was traveling to made a similar observation.
"She was fine," her husband told reporters Thursday. "She had a cup of coffee that morning. It was just like every other weekend we go up there."
Her brother said she gave no warning signs to her family, but he told authorities she called him a half-hour before the wreck saying she was disoriented.
"This is the absolute last thing that we ever would have expected," Schuler's brother, Warren Hance, said in a statement Wednesday.
Speaking to FOX 5 in New York City, Daniel Schuler's lawyer said his client is suicidal after losing his wife and little girl.
Hance's three young daughters died along with Schuler, her 2-year-old daughter and three men in an SUV hit by Schuler's minivan in the crash on the Taconic State Parkway, about 35 miles north of New York City. Schuler's 5-year-old son survived.
State police said investigators didn't know of Schuler's drug or alcohol use at first, until they found pieces of a 1.75-liter bottle of vodka undern fragrance of criminality" in the case.
The relatives likely will pursue a civil case, another family lawyer said Thursday.
"There's a lot of questions that need to be answered, but we don't know if they'll ever be answered" because of the driver's death, said the attorney, Marshall A. Neimark. "We'll never be able to get into the mindset of her ... and I think that's the most difficult thing for the families of the victims."
Meanwhile, he said, the Bastardis' relatives had stressed to him that they were praying for Schuler's son.
Several neighbors of the Schulers and Hances declined to comment Wednesday about what they knew about the Long Island family, saying they didn't want to interfere with the family's privacy.
A psychiatrist said people can often hide alcohol problems from relatives and co-workers, although he didn't have specific information on Schuler.
"They seem to be functional human beings," said Nassau University Medical Center psychiatry department chairman Constantine Ioannou, "until you find out they have been drinking all day long."
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