Horrific car accident now blamed on drugs/alcohol

Postby iluvk9 » August 5th, 2009, 9:33 am

This is a local story that has recently had a very unexpected twist

Woman with kids in car drives wrong way on Parkway. EVERYONE believes she had some sort of medical situation. She kills three others as well. Toxicology comes back as alcohol and pot.

Neighbors mixed as Taconic crash details released when the toxicology reports came back.

In Floral Park and West Babylon, last week's sadness over the wrong-way collision on the Taconic State Parkway that killed eight gave way to Tuesday's conflicted emotions.

Residents of the two communities Diane Schuler called home struggled as they absorbed the news that the 36-year-old mother of two had been drunk and high on marijuana when she crashed her minivan into an SUV in Briarcliff Manor last month - killing herself, four children and three Yonkers men in a fiery July 26 crash.

"We're all just so upset," said the clerk at Marianna's Bakery in Floral Park, who gave her name only as Maryann. "You didn't think you could feel worse than last week."

In the close-knit village where Schuler grew up, Schuler's nieces were regular customers at the bakery, she said. The girls died along with Schuler's daughter in the accident.

Schuler's neighbors in West Babylon were split between those who clung to the memory of a cautious mother who protected her children and others who were angry that she would put youngsters in harm's way. Schuler's 2-year-old daughter, Erin, died in the crash. Her son Bryan, 5, was the sole survivor.

"It's sickening," said a neighbor, Dave, 47, who declined to give his last name. "You have children in the car, you should have more common sense."

Other neighbors recalled a loving mother who played in the front yard with her children.

"I've never seen her drink, I've never seen her smoke," said Julie Shaughnessy. "I don't believe that. There has to be another explanation."

Matthew Gatland, 39, said drinking and using drugs would be "totally out of character" for Schuler. "It doesn't make sense," he said.

At Floral Park Florists, employee Christina Henrichs, who made the floral arrangements for the coffins of Schuler and her daughter, said she began to have doubts as details of the crash emerged last week.

"You kept hearing things that didn't quite add up," she said. "But you didn't want to think anything bad. It's just shocking."

Floral Park Village police stood guard Tuesday outside the home of Schuler's brother, Warren Hance, whose three children were killed. Signs reading "Do not enter" were set up at both ends of the street.

A sergeant said police were guarding the house to protect the Hance family's privacy.

http://www.newsday.com/long-island/nass ... -1.1348835
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Postby Marinepits » August 5th, 2009, 9:55 am

I was SHOCKED last night when I heard that. From all the neighbor interviews and family comments, this woman was supposed to have been a model mom and just a wonderful woman. I think everyone believed that this was a horrible tragic accident.

Our local paper has been covering this story pretty extensively and most of the comments online have been of concern for the woman driver and "she must have had health issues", and expressing sympathy for the families. Now, the comments are more along the lines of "I hope she burns in hell".

There may be a case for some of her family members being charged with manslaughter if the investigators find out that she had a substance abuse problem and they let her drive the kids anyway. There are reports that she met her husband at a McDonalds about an hour before the "accident" and no one seems to know just how drunk/high she was at that point. She had also called her brother from a rest stop to tell him that she couldn't see and he told her to stay there and he'd come get her, but she didn't.

According to the news reports, she had over twice the legal limit of alcohol in her blood, six grams of undigested vodka in her stomach, and the marijuana levels showed that she had smoked at least one joint between 15 minutes and one hour of the crash. There was also a bottle of vodka found in her van.
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Postby TheRedQueen » August 5th, 2009, 9:59 am

:shake: What a sad story...going from "accident" to this...
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Postby BigDogBuford » August 5th, 2009, 12:37 pm

Alcoholics can be *very* good at hiding it. BUT, if someone knew and nothing was done.....well, they're going to have to live with the death of almost an entire family.

You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
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Postby iluvk9 » August 6th, 2009, 7:02 am

Gosh, this is just sad all around...

The husband of the driver wants her body exhumed for private toxicology tests.
The family of the three men killed in the other vehicle are looking into criminal/civil charges.

The father of the three girls who were killed made a statement:

Statement from the Hance family

August 5, 2009 By Staff report

The following is a statement from the Hance family of Floral Park, who lost three girls in the July 26 wrong-way crash on the Taconic State Parkway. The statement was read by Stephen Spagnuolo, the uncle of Emma Hance, 8, Alyson Hance, 7, and Kate Hance, 5:

"Good afternoon. Jackie and Warren Hance have asked me to provide the following statement on their behalf and on behalf of the Hance family. We are shocked and deeply saddened by the information that has recently been released by the toxicology report. Amidst all the uncertainty and speculation as to how and why this accident occurred, this is the absolute last thing that we ever would have expected. We would never knowingly allow our daughters to travel with someone who might jeopardize their safety. Because we have never known Diane to be anything but a responsible and caring mother and aunt, this toxicology report raises more questions than it provides answers for our family. While this new development only adds to our already profound and indescribable grief, we will continue to cooperate with the law enforcement authorities in the ongoing investigation, as we have done from the beginning. We have no further comments or statements at this time and we would appreciate your continued respect of our privacy as we mourn the loss of our three beloved girls. Thank you."

http://www.newsday.com/long-island/nass ... -1.1350711
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Postby iluvk9 » August 6th, 2009, 7:15 am

Edit... can't be criminal charges because the woman died.
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Postby Marinepits » August 6th, 2009, 2:03 pm


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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