Denials, Outrage Surround Taconic Crash Revelations

Diane Schuler's family denies knowing she was drunk, while relatives of the family say that's "inconceivable"

Relatives of the three men killed by the Long Island mom who drove drunk and high in the wrong direction on the Taconic Parkway say it is "inconceivable" her family didn't know she was under the influence when the crash occured. 

Eight people, including driver Diane Schuler, were killed.

Lawyers representing the Bastardi family said they plan to sue Schuler's relatives -- a day after Westchester authorities confirmed that her 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.  Schuler, her 2-year-old daughter and three nieces -- ages 8, 7 and 5 -- were also killed.  Only Schuler's 5-year-old son survived.

Schuler's husband has kept mum about the revelations, but her brother -- the father of three of the girls who were killed -- said he had no idea his sister was driving drunk.

"We would never knowingly allow our daughters to travel with someone who might jeopardize their safety," Warren and Jackie Hance, of Floral Park, said in a statement.

Hance said he knew his sister to be a good parent.

"Because we have never known Diane to be anything but a responsible and caring mother and aunt, this toxicology report raises more questions than it provides answers for our family."

Toxicology reports showed Schuler had at least 10 drinks before driving her minivan the wrong way on the Taconic State Parkway. She had recently smoked marijuana and had a bottle of vodka in the car, authorities said.  Witnesses told police this week that they saw her minivan driving aggressively and erratically for miles before the final crash.

After learning of Schuler's severe intoxication, the Bastardi family's grief turned to outrage.

"Any person who was aware that she was drinking is an accomplice," said lawyer Irving Anolik. "She didn't just wake up one morning with a drug problem and capable of drinking that much alcohol."

He also said "there's a strong fragrance of criminality" surrounding the incident.

Speaking to reporters, family members called the deaths "murder." Roseann Guzzo, whose father and brother were killed, said the family is outraged that Schuler was impaired and that her actions were "incomprehensible."
Police said no criminal charges are planned.

Diane Schuler had a blood alcohol level of 0.19 -- more than twice the legal limit -- and had high levels of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in her system when she crashed along the Taconic Parkway on July 26, state troopers and toxicology experts said during a press conference yesterday afternoon. 


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