On July 26, 2009, a tragic event unfolded. Diane Schuler, a 36-year-old mother, was at the wheel, driving in the wrong direction on the Taconic State Parkway in New York. Her minivan crashed into an SUV, resulting in the death of Diane, her young daughter, three nieces, and three passengers in the other vehicle. It seemed as if Diane was preparing for the accident.
Toxicology reports later revealed that Diane was heavily intoxicated during the accident. This revelation seemed to close the case as a tragic incident of drunk driving. However, the story didn’t end there. Diane’s fatal accident led to the enactment of the Child Passenger Protection Act, making drunk driving with a juvenile in the vehicle a criminal offense in the New York area.
Daniel Schuler, Diane’s husband, has consistently maintained that his wife was a responsible mother and wife at the time of the accident. An HBO story followed this claim, “There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane,” which aimed to establish Diane’s innocence. However, the film raised more questions than it answered, leading to various theories about whether Diane intentionally caused the accident that killed her relatives.
The Day of The Accident
On that fateful day, Diane Schuler drove away from Hunter Lake Campground in a 2003 Ford Windstar owned by her brother. Her 5-year-old son, 2-year-old daughter, and her brother’s three daughters accompanied her. According to the campground’s co-owner, Diane Schuler was sober when she left the campground.
Diane Schuler’s husband left the campground at the same time as her, but in a different vehicle due to the fact that he was driving a pickup truck and had a dog with him. Diane made a pit stop in Liberty at a McDonald’s and a Sunoco gas station on her way home.
Chaos at Route 17
After leaving Liberty around 11 a.m., Diane drove on Route 17/Interstate 86. Witnesses reported seeing a red minivan driving aggressively, reversing, honking, and weaving in and out of lanes on Route 17.
Calling her brother Hance
At 11:37 a.m., Diane called her brother, Hance, and mentioned they were being delayed by traffic. Around 11:45 a.m., witnesses saw Diane at the roadside, bending over with her hands on her knees and vomiting. She was seen in the same position a short time later.
At 1 p.m., Diane called her brother again. During the call, one of her nieces reportedly told her father that Aunt Diane was having trouble seeing and speaking clearly. Diane then spoke to Hance, admitting that she was disoriented and unable to see clearly. Hance advised her to stay off the road until he arrived. Despite his attempts to reach her, Diane did not respond. For some reason, Diane left her cell phone on the highway; it was later found by another motorist near a toll booth.
Going the wrong way
Authorities could not determine the route Diane Schuler took from the extension to the Taconic State Parkway ramps near Briarcliff Manor. At 1:33 p.m., two drivers called 911 after spotting Diane’s van driving northbound into the Taconic State Parkway turning lane near Briarcliff Manor.
At the intersection with Pleasantville Road, two signs read “Don’t Enter” and “One Way,” indicating the exit’s direction. Following that, four 911 calls were made by drivers reporting a vehicle driving in the wrong direction in the parking lot at a speed of 75-85 miles per hour.
The van was driving south in the fast lane when it collided with a Chevrolet Trailblazer, which then collided with another vehicle. At the time of the crash, Diane Schuler was traveling at around 85 km/h. The collision resulted in the immediate death of three men in the Chevrolet Trailblazer: 81-year-old Michael Bastardi, his 49-year-old son Guy, and Diane’s friend, 74-year-old Dan Longo. The children in the van were not buckled up. Diane’s niece was seriously injured, and her 5-year-old son Bryan was rushed to the hospital.
Two men who saw the accident and the smoke emanating from the van rushed over to help the passengers. After removing Diane from the van, they found a large broken Absolute Vodka Bottle by the driver’s side. They tried to free the children but found that they were pulseless. They may not have noticed Bryan stuck under another child because the kids were not seat belted in and were piled together. Bryan was the only survivor of the accident.
Diane Schuler’s husband disagreed with the conclusion that she was heavily intoxicated at the time of the crash, drawing national attention to the investigation. According to the toxicology report released on August 4 by Westchester County medical examiners, Diane Schuler had a blood alcohol content of 0.19 percent, with about six grams of alcohol in her stomach that had not yet been absorbed into her blood. In New York, the legal BAC limit for driving while intoxicated is 0.08 percent.
The report also indicated that Diane had high levels of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in her system, suggesting that she may have smoked marijuana 15 minutes before the crash.
Denial of Drug Use
Daniel Schuler and his lawyer, Dominic Barbara, initially denied that Diane had been using drugs or drinking that weekend because children were with them.
Daniel quickly changed his story, denying that his wife had ever ‘drank to excess’ or driven while inebriated. When asked about the broken vodka bottle in the car, Daniel claimed that they always kept an old bottle in their camper and that Diane had packed it for the camping trip.
Daniel eventually admitted that he and his wife had consumed alcohol during their camping trip, but denied that Diane had been drinking the day before the accident.
The co-owner of the Hunter Ground campsite, a friend of the Schulers, spoke to Diane before she left, asserting she was sober. The gas station employee also confirmed Diane’s sobriety when she asked for Tylenol. However, the station was sold out, and Diane was unable to get the painkiller. Diane had been seen rubbing her cheek, leading to the assumption that she had an abscessed tooth, despite not complaining of pain.
According to Daniels’ lawyer, no one at McDonald’s noticed anything unusual about Diane’s behavior that suggested she was inebriated. In fact, she had a lengthy conversation while ordering her food and orange juice.
Daniel denied that his wife had used drugs, but admitted that she only smoked marijuana “occasionally,” never in large quantities, and only for insomnia. According to later reports, Diane had smoked on a regular basis, according to a statement from Daniel.
Daniel Schuler and Lawyer Blamed Everything But Alcohol
Daniel Schuler and his lawyer issued a statement claiming that Diane was driving erratically due to a medical problem, such as a stroke, rather than intoxication.
Barbara mentioned that Diane had been obese and diabetic for much of her life, despite various sources claiming Diane had gestational diabetes, a temporary condition linked to an earlier pregnancy. Barbara also mentioned that Diane had an abscess that had been in her mouth for seven weeks prior to her death and a lump in her leg. However, an autopsy performed by a Westchester County coroner the day after the accident revealed that Diane had not suffered a stroke, aneurysm, or heart attack.
Diane Schuler’s Drug History
After a forensic pathologist recommended that hair tests be performed to determine Diana’s drug history, Daniel and Barbara announced plans to exhume the body to conduct the hair test and other tests. Experts questioned whether the test would produce any results, given that two separate laboratories came to the same conclusion.
Family members of the three TrailBlazer victims criticized Daniel’s insistence on denying his wife’s intoxication and drug use. When Daniel appeared on CNN’s Larry King Live to call for more testing of his wife’s remains, Longo’s brother Joseph released a statement expressing his frustration.
Bastardi’s daughters appeared with their lawyer on NBC’s Today, during which they questioned Daniel’s guilt over his wife’s substance abuse and asked him to take a drug test himself. Daniel reportedly accepted a $100,000 offer from a film company to film his wife’s exhumation for a documentary in July 2010.
Bastardi’s daughters appeared with their lawyer on NBC’s Today, during which they questioned Daniel’s guilt over his wife’s substance abuse and asked him to take a drug test himself. “It makes me angry that he keeps denying it,” said Margaret Nicotina, Bastardi’s daughter. “Every time he does it, he brings it back to us. I just wish that he would just admit that she was drunk. Maybe if he knew what happened that morning if they were arguing or anything, that would be the truth. He wants the truth. We do.”
Daniel reportedly accepted a $100,000 offer from a film company to film his wife’s exhumation for a documentary in July 2010.
Was The Crash Intentional?
Despite the implicit toxicology reports, Daniel Schuler has stuck to his other roles as a “victim of an accident,” portraying Schuler as an “ideal mother and dependable person.” Schuler’s actions are described in the media as “murder,” not a mishap, despite the fact that the Bastardi family lost three members in the accident.
Mike Bastardi Jr., who lost his brother, father, and friend in the fatal crash on the Taconic State Parkway, said, “This was the murder of my family.”
This incident contributed to The Child Passenger Protection Act
The Child Passenger Protection Act makes it a criminal offense to drive intoxicated with a child in the car. It became known as Leandra’s Law after the death in October 2009 of 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, a passenger in a vehicle whose driver was drunk. On November 18, 2009, the Child Passenger Protection Act was signed into law in New York.
Despite the efforts of Schuler’s team, investigators classified the crash as a homicide after claiming the deaths were caused by negligent driving.
Daniel Schuler continues to refute claims that his wife is anything but the perfect woman, describing her as “reliable, trustworthy, honest” and denying her victim’s family’s claim that she was a murderer.
Daniel is still trying to prove there was a medical reason for her actions. “She was just nice, loving, kind, she bought cards for birthdays,” he said.
Quick facts about the Diane Schuler case –
Q: Where is Daniel Schuler now? A: Two years after the crash, Daniel Schuler sued the state, his brother-in-law, and others. In 2011, Jackie Hance, the mother of three girls killed in the crash, sued Daniel Schuler. Daniel Schuler is a public safety officer with the Nassau County Police Department on Long Island.
Q: What caused Diane Schuler’s death? A: Diane Schuler died in a car crash, which was reportedly due to her being heavily intoxicated. Toxicology reports revealed that she had a blood alcohol content of 0.19 percent and high levels of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in her system at the time of the accident.
Q: What is the mystery of Diane Schuler? A: The mystery surrounding Diane Schuler involves the circumstances leading up to the fatal car crash. Despite toxicology reports indicating her intoxication, her husband, Daniel Schuler, has consistently maintained that Diane was a responsible mother and wife and was not intoxicated at the time of the accident. This has led to various theories and speculation about whether Diane intentionally caused the accident.
Q: What happened with Aunt Diane? A: Diane Schuler, often referred to as “Aunt Diane,” was involved in a fatal car crash on the Taconic State Parkway in New York. She was driving in the wrong direction when her minivan collided with an SUV, resulting in the death of eight people, including herself, her daughter, her three nieces, and three passengers in the other vehicle.
Q: What did Diane Schuler say to her brother? A: Diane Schuler called her brother, Hance, on the day of the accident. During the call, she admitted to being disoriented and unable to see clearly. Hance advised her to stay off the road until he arrived, but she did not respond to his subsequent attempts to reach her.
Q: Did Diane Schuler have a surviving son? A: Yes, Diane Schuler’s 5-year-old son, Bryan, was the only survivor of the accident. He was rushed to the hospital following the crash.
Q: Was Diane Schuler a drinker? A: According to the toxicology report, Diane Schuler had a high blood alcohol content at the time of the crash, indicating that she had been drinking. However, her husband, Daniel Schuler, initially denied that she had been drinking or using drugs that weekend.
Q: Was Diane Schuler’s body ever exhumed? A: Daniel Schuler and his lawyer announced plans to exhume Diane’s body to conduct hair tests and other tests to determine her drug history. However, it is unclear whether this exhumation ever took place.
Q: Did Daniel Schuler sue his brother-in-law? A: Yes, two years after the crash, Daniel Schuler sued his brother-in-law, among others.
Q: Did Diane Schuler have a tooth abscess? A: According to Daniel Schuler’s lawyer, Diane had an abscess that had been in her mouth for seven weeks prior to her death. However, it’s unclear whether this condition contributed to the accident.
Q: What was Diane Schuler’s daughter’s name? A: Diane Schuler’s daughter, who was also killed in the accident, was named Erin.
Q: Did Diane Schuler have a brain aneurysm? A: An autopsy performed the day after the accident revealed that Diane Schuler had not suffered a brain aneurysm, stroke, or heart attack. The cause of the crash was attributed to her being heavily intoxicated.
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