Wrong-Way Crash Mom Was a Pothead: Report

Private eye: Mom asked for pain meds at convenience store

By Jennifer Millman
|  Friday, Aug 14, 2009  |  Updated 8:46 AM EDT
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Outrage From Taconic Victims' Family

NBCNewYork.com

Diane Schuler used marijuana to help her fall asleep at night, her family says in a new interview.

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The Long Island mom who cops say was drunk and high when she killed herself and seven others in a wrong-way Taconic death drive stopped to get pain meds along the way and was no stranger to marijuana, according to two new reports. 

Diane Schuler's family has spent the weeks since the July 26 Taconic Parkway crash offering explanations for the collision and trying to explain away toxicology reports that show the woman's blood alcohol level was a sky-high 0.19. But they haven't responded to questions about the marijuana the medical examiner found in her system.

According to the New York Post,  Schuler, a mother of two, depended on pot to fall asleep at night, her family reportedly told People magazine in an interview.   

Brother-in-law Jimmy Schuler adamantly denies Diane was a drinker, but admits everyone in the family knew she used pot as a nighttime sleep aid, according to The New York Post, which quoted a People interview, which is not available on the magazine's Web site. 

Jimmy and the rest of the Schuler family maintain the 36-year-old Diane did not have a substance-abuse problem, despite toxicology reports that show she had ingested the equivalent of 10 shots of vodka and used pot as soon as 15 minutes before the crash that killed her daughter, nieces and three men in another car.

The family even hired a private investigator to try to prove there was a medical reason behind the crash. Thomas Ruskin, the private eye, says he's got video surveillance to confirm Schuler stopped at an upstate convenience store – and a statement from a store clerk that says she asked for over-the-counter pain medicine, according to the Daily News

Ruskin says video footage, which hasn't been released, showed Schuler inside and outside the store in Liberty, N.Y. and speaking with the clerk behind the counter. He says the clerk described her as sober less than four hours before the wreck.
    
"He said she asked him for Tylenol or Advil and he didn't have any - so the question becomes what was bothering Diane Schuler?" Ruskin told the News.

Ruskin says he is turning over the information to state police.
    
For the family of the three Yonkers men who died when Schuler hit their SUV head-on, the latest news is just another in a string of disturbing developments.

When Roseann Guzzo, whose father, Michael Bastardi, and brother, Guy, were killed found out about Diane Schuler's pot habit she was shocked.  

"Oh, my God," she gasped yesterday at her late father's house where she was packing his belongings, according to the Post. "I can't believe it."

Guzzo rejected efforts by Diane's husband, Daniel, and his attorney, Dominic Barbara, to blame Diane's toxicology results on bizarre medical explanations – a stroke, a moving lump in her leg and most recently, Anbesol, a drug used to ease minor toothaches. Her family has said Diane Schuler suffered from a mouth abscess.

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