Victims' family to sue Taconic crash driver's estate
By KIERAN CROWLEY
Last Updated: 9:05 PM, December 9, 2009
The family of a father and son killed on the Taconic State Parkway by a drunk, wrong-way driver will sue her estate tomorrow to unravel the mystery behind a series of bad decisions that cost the lives of eight people.
Since prosecutors declined to pursue any criminal charges, relatives of the people in the car Diane Schuler collided with said the only way they will get answers about her pot-laced, vodka-induced wrong way death ride is to put those close to her under oath in a court of law.
Schuler, 36, her daughter, Erin, 2, and her three nieces were killed, as were three men in the other car. Only Schulers 5-year-old son Bryan survived.
"This is the road to justice," said Mike Bastardi Jr., whose brother Guy and their father Michael Bastardi Sr., perished in the horrific July 26 crash that also killed family friend Daniel Longo.
"We dont have the truth the truth about what happened that day," Bastardi said. "We know that Diane Schuler was drunk and stoned on marijuana but we still dont know what set her off that day.
"This was the murder of my family. There are so many unanswered questions that a civil suit may help us unravel this. This is the only way we can get to the truth my father and my brother deserve it."
Schuler drove the wrong way for two miles on the windy parkway after a family trip to an upstate campground, authorities said. After paying a toll, Schuler stopped to phone her brother and told him she was disoriented.
But she kept on driving, ignoring "do not enter" on a ramp as she drove south in a northbound lane.
Schulers widower Danny Schuler, and her brother Warren Hance, each hired lawyers after the crash but no criminal charges were filed. Neither could be reached for comment.
The Bastardi family said Schuler and Hance likely knew about Schulers drinking and smoking, and could have prevented her from getting behind the wheel. They will seek to have the men subpoenaed at a civil trial.
Schuler has denied his wife was stoned and drunk and claimed she had some mysterious medical problem even though an autopsy showed she was in good health.
At the time of her death, Schuler had a blood alcohol reading of .19 and a very high THC level, indicating she smoked a large amount of pot just before the daylight head-on crash, authorities said.
According to the suit, the crash was caused "by the carelessness, negligence and want of care" of Diane Schuler and her brother Warren Hance.
Hance, who owned the van she drove, sped up to Westchester from Long Island rather than call police when he realized his sister was having a serious problem driving his van containing the children, sources said. [snipped]
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