Kin of Taconic Crash Victims: "It Didn't Have to Happen"

Father-son pair were on their way home to their family's traditional Sunday dinner when they were killed

By Xana O'Neill
|  Tuesday, Aug 11, 2009  |  Updated 6:53 AM EDT
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Kin of Taconic Crash Victims: "It Didn't Have to Happen"

Diane Schuler was drunk and had high levels of marijuana in her system on the day she drove the wrong way on the Taconic and caused an accident that killed eight people, according to published reports.

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The family of the father-son pair killed in the fiery wrong-way crash on the Taconic Parkway fumed at the drunk driver who got behind the wheel and would up killing eight people -- including herself and four children.

"My heart is broken at night," Roseann Guzzo said. "I lost my father and my brother. My family is devastated by this."

Guzzo and her sister Margie Nicotina, both appearing on the "Today" show this morning, lost their 81-year-old father Michael Bastardi and their brother, Guy, 49, in the horrific July 26 head-on collision with a minivan driven by Diane Schuler.

Cops said Schuler, who got behind the wheel with four children in tow, was driving drunk and high.

"It didn't have to happen," Guzzo said. "We were very angry and upset. I mean, this didn't have to happen, you know? She had a choice and she made a choice, and this is what happens when you drink and you do drugs and you get behind the wheel of a car."

The father-son pair was running errands and attended the 11 a.m. mass at St. John the Baptist Church. The two planned to arrive a little bit early to the traditional Sunday dinner their close-knit Italian-American family shared together every week.

But tragedy struck on the Taconic and the two would never see another beloved Sunday dinner.

Guzzo said she didn't think the driver's husband, Daniel Schuler, was being truthful about his wife's alcohol abuse and that he must have known she was a heavy drinker.

"He's in denial," she said. "Somewhere along the line you have to know somebody can drink like that."

The sister said the family doubts the hubby's public statements that his "heart is clear" because his wife was not a drunk driver.

"I don't believe everything we hear from the Schuler family," Guzzo said.

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