The husband of the Long Island mom who killed eight people, including herself, after driving drunk and high the wrong way on the Taconic Parkway says she was "absolutely not" an alcoholic and he is convinced a medical condition was behind the fiery crash.
Speaking publicly today for the first time since the incident, Daniel Schuler said he does not believe that his wife Diane Schuler was in good health at the time of her death -- the vodka and marijuana coursing through her veins notwithstanding.
Daniel blamed diabetes, a tooth abscess or even a stroke for the wild ride that ended up destroying three families.
At a press conference, Daniel Schuler and his lawyer Dominic Barbara added that Diane also had a "lump" on her leg that was "moving."
Schuler repeatedly expressed disbelief at the toxicology report released this week that found Schuler's blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit and that she had recently smoked marijuana. He also said the couple had a happy marriage and that his wife was not in any way depressed or suicidal.
"I go to bed every night knowing that she is not an alcoholic," Daniel Schuler said. "Something medically happened to her."
In fact, Schuler said he had never seen his wife drunk.
Schuler's lawyer suggested that Diane had a mouth abscess that could have turned into a "brain infection." Both Daniel Schuler and his lawyer repeatedly said they believe a stroke or diabetes could also be behind the crash -- but they declined to answer why medical reports did not find that Schuler had suffered from either affliction.
The lawyer also refused to take any questions regarding her marijuana use, noting that Schuler is a public safety officer for Nassau County.
"Something had to happen, this is not a woman who would jeopardize five children," said Barbara. "Something happened to her brain."
Schuler's family is considering an independent autopsy to dispute the findings of the original toxicology report.
Westchester authorities have said that Diane Schuler's blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit and she had smoked marijuana just before colliding head on with an SUV occupied by Guy Bastardi, 49, his 81-year-old father Michael and their 74-year-old friend Daniel Longo. All three men died, as well as Schuler, her 2-year-old daughter and three nieces aged 8, 7 and 5. The Schuler's 5-year-old son survived.
Daniel Schuler said he has been spending night and day at his son's bedside and that the child is improving. Breaking into sobs over the death of his daughter, Schuler said "my little girl. She's gone."
Meanwhile the New York Post found a "drinking buddy" of Diane Schuler's who said she routinely went to the bar and complained about her "failing marriage and stressful job."
"Her marriage seemed a bit rocky, and I think she felt trapped by it," said the buddy, who only gave her name as Sheila. "For the last couple of months, she didn't appear to be a happy woman."
Daniel Schuler told investigators that everything seemed fine when he and his wife left the Sullivan County campground, state police said. He went on a fishing trip while his wife headed home with the children.
At the press conference Schuler described his wife as a. "perfect wife and an outstanding mother." He also said he never met any Sheila.
Police said no criminal charges are planned, although relatives of three Yonkers men who died consulted with Westchester County prosecutors Wednesday.
A lawyer for the Bastardi family said he wanted to find out whether Schuler's family members or others was aware that she had been drinking before the crash, and he suggested criminal charges were possible against anyone who knew about her condition.
The attorney, Irving Anolik, told reporters after meeting with the district attorney he detected "a strong fragrance of criminality'' in the case.
The relatives likely will pursue a civil case, another family lawyer said Thursday.
"There's a lot of questions that need to be answered, but we don't know if they'll ever be answered'' because of the driver's death, said the attorney, Marshall A. Neimark. "We'll never be able to get into the mindset of her ... and I think that's the most difficult thing for the families of the victims."
NBC's Today show on Friday morning interviewed Daniel Schuler's lawyer and sister in law: