After Diane Schuler drove the wrong way on the Taconic State Parkway and killed eight people because — according to the Westchester medical examiner — she was drunk and high, her husband and family vowed to clear her name. “She wasn’t an alcoholic,” her husband Danny Schuler says. For months, the family’s representatives have said they intended to do new tests to prove the medical examiner wrong. The accident occurred July 26, and after more than three months, tissue and fluid samples held by the medical examiner hadn’t been requested. Now, Schuler’s private investigator says the family has raised the money to pay for retesting. “I’m in the process of filling out the paperwork to request transfer of the medical examiner’s samples to our crime lab,” says Tom Ruskin, president of CMP investigative group. He expects results within a few weeks.
The first test is to confirm that the samples do in fact belong to Diane Schuler and weren’t somehow mixed up at the time of autopsy. “If they don’t match, then the case is settled,” says Ruskin, who has already extracted Diane’s DNA from her toothbrush. If it does match, blood and fluids will be retested for, among other things, alcohol level. The medical examiner reported that Diane Schuler’s blood alcohol content was .19 percent, more than twice the legal limit. He also reported a high level of THC, the active ingredient of marijuana. But the Schuler family has insisted that “something medical” must have gone wrong with his wife that day.
Diane was driving her three nieces and two children home to Long Island from a weekend camping trip in the Catskills on July 26. She and four of the children were killed in the collision, along with three Yonkers men, Michael Bastardi Sr., his son Guy, and their friend Daniel Luongo. Westchester medical examiner Dr. Millard Hyland says he stands by the office results. And Elizabeth Spratt, his chief toxicologist, says that there is no doubt that the samples belong to Diane Schuler. Schuler’s lawyer, Dominic Barbara, has said that the family may also exhume the body for further tests.