Published August 06, 2009
The husband of a New York woman who police say was drunk and high on marijuana when she killed herself and seven others in a wrong-way crash insisted Thursday that she rarely drank and was not an alcoholic.
Toxicology reports show that Diane Schuler drank more than 10 shots of vodka and smoked marijuana shortly before she drove her minivan south on a northbound parkway and smashed head-on into an oncoming SUV on July 26.
Schuler, her 2-year-old daughter and three nieces were killed in the minivan; three men in the SUV also died in the crash. Schuler's 5-year-old son survived and remains hospitalized.
But Daniel Schuler said Thursday that the autopsy results make no sense, and he believes his wife's health problems were to blame.
"I go to bed every night and my heart is clear. She is not an alcoholic," he told reporters. "She was not a drinker. ... Something medically had to have happened."
His lawyer, Dominic Barbara, said 36-year-old Diane Schuler had gestational diabetes and may have suffered a stroke before the tragic wreck in a northern suburb of New York City. The condition usually begins during pregnancy and goes away after childbirth, experts say.
He also said Schuler also had a mouth abscess for several weeks and a bump on her leg.
Daniel Schuler said he'd never seen his wife drunk since the day he met her.
A second autopsy is a possibility in the case. Daniel Schuler and his lawyer previously said they may want her body exhumed, but Barbara said they are still weighing that option and are waiting for the county report to be complete.
"We have not yet decided to have a new autopsy," said Barbara. "We don't know."
He denied reports that that the Schulers were 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."
Police say Schuler's blood-alcohol level was more than twice the state's legal limit, and she had smoked marijuana about 15 minutes before the crash, according to toxicology reports from the Westchester County medical examiner's office.
A broken 1.75-liter bottle of Absolut vodka was found in her wrecked minivan, police said.
Daniel Schuler said he and his wife went through a normal routine on the Sunday before he last saw her at a campsite in upstate New York.
"She was fine," he said. "We had a cup of coffee in the morning, we packed the cars up like we always do and we headed out."
Schuler went fishing for the day, while his wife began a 140-mile trip home to Long Island with her kids and three nieces, ages 5 to 8. The fiery wreck happened about four hours after she left, and after motorists called 911 to report her erratic driving on several roads.
Barbara said a frequent baby sitter for the West Babylon couple never saw Schuler drink or smoke pot. Her sister-in-law also defended her.
"Family was the most important thing to her," said Joy Schuler, Daniel's sister-in-law. "There was no way she would ever jeopardize the children."
Police say they hope information from the family will shed light on what happened.
Cooperation from the Schulers has been "limited thus far," state police Lt. Dominick Chiumento said.
Barbara told FOX 5 his client has been suicidal after losing his wife and daughter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.