WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The disbelieving husband of wrong-way driver Diane Schuler may seek new tests of her blood, even if nothing in her autopsy report challenges the conclusion she was drunk, a private investigator said Friday.
The 36-year-old Schuler drove her minivan south in the northbound lanes of the Taconic Parkway on July 26 and crashed into an SUV. Schuler, her daughter, three young nieces and three men in the SUV were killed. Toxicology tests found she had been drinking heavily and smoking marijuana.
Private investigator Thomas Ruskin, who is working for Schuler's husband, Daniel, now has the autopsy report. He said he will have forensic experts go over it for clues to other possible causes for the accident, such as a stroke.
But even if the report supports the original conclusion, Ruskin said, he may request that untested blood samples be tested. Eventually, her husband could ask that the body be exhumed for more tests, Ruskin said.
"We are going to look further because Danny Schuler believes there has to be a mistake here," the investigator said.
"Danny Schuler tells me every single day that I speak to him, every single day, `Tom, you'll find what you'll find. I know you're going to find that somehow, some way, this is a mistake,"' Ruskin said. "He is so convinced that it has to be a mistake, because he knows his wife."
Dr. Millard Hyland, the Westchester medical examiner, said samples are available if a court order is produced. He said he could not remember a retest ever overturning a result in his office.
"Many people want to do that sort of thing, but we're very careful about these things, so I stand behind our finding," he said.
Irving Anolik, a spokesman for the family of two of the men killed, said he was told by prosecutors that the autopsy results were "triple- and quadruple-checked."
Ruskin said other evidence supports the husband's theory.
"Of all the people that we have interviewed, dozens and dozens of people who have known Diane Schuler almost her whole life, no one has ever seen her drunk, ever," he said. "So it's just weird. It's one of the strangest, absurd cases I've ever dealt with, where someone's total history is not borne out by the results of a toxicology."
He also said the time between two cell phone calls during Schuler's journey — one in which she was lucid, he said, and one in which she was not — seemed too short for her to drink the 10 shots of vodka that would have raised her blood-alcohol to the 0.19 percent officials recorded.
Ruskin also said he's been told that Schuler's liver and pancreas showed no sign of long-term alcohol damage. State police say they have confirmed only that Schuler was a social drinker.
Ruskin said his team has driven the route Schuler took — also on a Sunday — to help build a timeline. And he is awaiting EZ Pass records that might show exactly when she traveled over the Tappan Zee Bridge on her way home to West Babylon from a campground in Sullivan County.
"We're looking at all these different facts in trying to piece together our puzzle and trying to determine what happened," he said.