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Mom Drunk and High in Crash That Killed Eight

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NY Post: The Long Island mom behind the wheel in a fiery wrong-way crash along a Westchester highway was drunk on vodka and had high levels of marijuana in her system -- a deadly mix that killed her and seven others, authorities said today.

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The findings were part of a toxicology report conducted by the Westchester County Medical Examiner that was conducted on 36-year-old Diane Schuler in the wake of the deadly July 26 crash along the Taconic State Parkway in Briarcliff Manor, officials said.

Schuler's blood-alcohol level was a eye-popping .19 -- nearly 2½ times the legal limit of .08, according to a bombshell report.

"My office, along with the New York State Police, will continue to investigate the facts and circumstances that led up to the collision causing the deaths, so that the public and the families of the victims can understand what lead to this horrific crash," said Westchester County DA Janet DiFiore.

DiFiore confirmed the State police's report that Schuler was drunk and "impaired by marijuana."

During a news conference this afternoon, police said that another six grams of alcohol was found in Schuler's stomach that had yet to enter her bloodstream.

A bottle of vodka was recovered from Schuler's car, police said.

Investigators said Schuler drank the equivalent of 10 drinks of vodka, although State police was not sure what time she began drinking.

State police also said Schuler smoked marijuana 15 minutes to an hour before the crash -- meaning she was drunk and using drugs while with the kids.

The test results were shared on Friday with relatives of the crash victims, which included Schuler's 2-year-old daughter and three nieces.

Schuler was coming home to West Babylon, LI, from an upstate camping trip when she drove her Ford Windstar minivan against traffic for 1.7 miles along the northbound lane of the Taconic.

State police investigators said Schuler collided head-on with a Chevrolet Trail Blazer driven by Guy Bastardi.

Bastardi, his father Michael, and family friend Daniel Longo were all killed in the tragic crash.

Also killed was Schuler, her daughter Erin, and her three nieces, Emma Hance, 8; Alyson Hance, 7; and Kate Hance, 5.

Schuler's 5-year-old son Bryan was the only survivor. He is currently recovering at Westchester Medical Center, where he is listed in stable condition.

Michael Bastardi Jr., 52, whose father and brother were killed, said he was "in disbelief" over the findings.

"How could you jump in a car with five kids and drink? We want to get to the truth," he said.

Investigators said Schuler crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge at about 1 p.m. and pulled over on the Tarrytown side of the crossing.

At about 1 p.m., she called her brother, Warren Hance, and had a brief cell phone conversation with him. During the call, Hance told cops that his sister claimed she was feeling "disoriented" and had "trouble seeing," according to investigators.

Hance told Schuler that he would pick her up and that she shouldn't get behind the wheel. Instead, Schuler did not stay put, driving her car against traffic before the crash happened some 30 minutes later at about 1:35 p.m.

Six drivers called 911 before the crash, which happened about 35 miles north of Manhattan.

Witnesses told investigators that they saw Schuler's red car driving erratically. They also said the minivan was straddling two lanes, tailgating and flashing its headlights.

Other drivers said they saw the car veer from one lane to another.

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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
Maria August 5, 2009, 12:19 PM

I dont get it, 6 people called 911 before the crash, where were the cops?????

anonymous August 5, 2009, 4:41 PM

Maybe the drugs and alcohol had something to do with her disorientation and vision issues. It’s such a tragic event, I don’t understand how anyone could endanger so many lives by driving in an intoxicated state. What I don’t get is what made her pull over to use her cell phone, but then continue driving against her brother’s recommendation to stay put?


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