Investigator: Schulers may seek exhumation
(AP) - The disbelieving husband of wrong-waydriver Diane Schuler may seek new tests of her blood, even ifnothing in her autopsy report challenges the conclusion she wasdrunk, a private investigator said Friday.
The 36-year-old Schuler drove her minivan south in thenorthbound lanes of the Taconic Parkway on July 26 and crashed intoan SUV. Schuler, her daughter, three young nieces and three men inthe SUV were killed. Toxicology tests found she had been drinkingheavily and smoking marijuana.
Private investigator Thomas Ruskin, who is working for Schuler'shusband, Daniel, now has the autopsy report. He said he will haveforensic experts go over it for clues to other possible causes forthe accident, such as a stroke.
But even if the report supports the original conclusion, Ruskinsaid, he may request that untested blood samples be tested.Eventually, her husband could ask that the body be exhumed for moretests, Ruskin said.
"We are going to look further because Danny Schuler believesthere has to be a mistake here," the investigator said.
"Danny Schuler tells me every single day that I speak to him,every single day, `Tom, you'll find what you'll find. I know you'regoing to find that somehow, some way, this is a mistake,"' Ruskinsaid. "He is so convinced that it has to be a mistake, because heknows his wife."
Dr. Millard Hyland, the Westchester medical examiner, saidsamples are available if a court order is produced. He said hecould not remember a retest ever overturning a result in hisoffice.
"Many people want to do that sort of thing, but we're verycareful about these things, so I stand behind our finding," hesaid.
Irving Anolik, a spokesman for the family of two of the menkilled, said he was told by prosecutors that the autopsy resultswere "triple- and quadruple-checked."
Ruskin said other evidence supports the husband's theory.
"Of all the people that we have interviewed, dozens and dozensof people who have known Diane Schuler almost her whole life, noone has ever seen her drunk, ever," he said. "So it's just weird.It's one of the strangest, absurd cases I've ever dealt with, wheresomeone's total history is not borne out by the results of atoxicology."
He also said the time between two cell phone calls duringSchuler's journey - one in which she was lucid, he said, and one inwhich she was not - seemed too short for her to drink the 10 shotsof vodka that would have raised her blood-alcohol to the 0.19percent officials recorded.
Ruskin also said he's been told that Schuler's liver andpancreas showed no sign of long-term alcohol damage. State policesay they have confirmed only that Schuler was a social drinker.
Ruskin said his team has driven the route Schuler took - also ona Sunday - to help build a timeline. And he is awaiting EZ Passrecords that might show exactly when she traveled over the TappanZee Bridge on her way home to West Babylon from a campground inSullivan County.
"We're looking at all these different facts in trying to piecetogether our puzzle and trying to determine what happened," hesaid.