Wrong-Way Taconic Mom's Family Reviews Autopsy

Takes first step toward deciding whether to exhume body

Investigators for the Long Island family of wrong-way Taconic mom Diane Schuler have taken the first step toward deciding whether to exhume her body.

Several forensic experts are scrutinizing the official autopsy report. The relatives of the mother of two have disputed findings that she was drunk and high before last month's crash on New York's Taconic State Parkway, which killed eight people, including her daughter, nieces and three men in another car.

"We're evaluating what was done, how it was done, when it was done, and any things that we may take exception to," investigator Thomas Ruskin told Newsday. The decision to exhume the body, he said, "could take weeks."

The report, which is about 20 pages long, says Schuler died of "blunt force injuries," Ruskin says. She is buried in Westbury's Cemetery of the Holy Rood.

Schuler had a blood alcohol level of 0.19 – more than twice the legal limit – at the time of the crash and had smoked marijuana as early as 15 minutes before, officials say. The Long Island mother was driving her two children and three nieces home from a camping trip when she got on the Taconic and drove nearly two miles in the wrong direction.

Everyone in the minivan except Schuler's 5-year-old son, Bryan, was killed when Schuler plowed head-on into an SUV. Three Yonkers men in the SUV were also killed.

Attorney Irving Anolik represents the family of two Yonkers men killed in the crash. He says samples of Schuler's hair follicles should have been tested for signs of a drug use pattern.

Each inch of hair can show a two-month record of previous drug use if tested, experts said, according to Newsday. Hair follicle tests could demonstrate Schuler had a pattern of substance abuse – an allegation Schuler's family has adamantly denied.

Westchester County spokeswoman Donna Greene confirmed no hair tests were conducted. Hair tests typically aren't conducted in accident investigations, a Westchester official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Newsday.

A hair follicle test wouldn't be helpful to the Schuler family. It could, however, be relevant in a probe into Daniel Schuler as to whether he knew about his wife's alleged substance abuse problem and provide fodder for a civil lawsuit against the Schuler family.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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