Family 'shocked' by toxicology report
(AP) - Family members of a mother who killedherself and seven others by driving the wrong way with a vanload ofchildren on a highway are stunned by news she was drunk and high atthe time, her brother and sister-in-law said Wednesday.
"This is the absolute last thing that we ever would haveexpected" of Diane Schuler, Warren and Jackie Hance said in astatement. "We would never knowingly allow our daughters to travelwith someone who might jeopardize their safety."
The Hances' three daughters, their only children, were killedalong with Schuler, Schuler's 2-year-old daughter and three menfrom Yonkers, N.Y. Schuler's minivan crashed into the men's SUVwhile she was driving the wrong way on the Taconic State Parkwaynorth of New York City. Schuler's 5-year-old son survived thecrash.
Schuler, 36, had a blood-alcohol level of more than twice thelegal limit. She had downed at least 10 drinks and had smokedmarijuana as recently as 15 minutes before the July 26 wreck,police said Tuesday.
Police had said no criminal charges were expected, althoughfamilies of the three Yonkers men met with Westchester Countyprosecutors earlier Tuesday.
The Hances, who live in Floral Park, said they were "shockedand deeply saddened" by the findings that Schuler was drunk.
"Because we have never known Diane to be anything but aresponsible, caring mother and aunt, this toxicology report raisesmore questions than it provides answers for our family," theHances said in a statement read by Stephen Spagnuolo, JackieHance's brother.
The family said they would cooperate with authorities trying topiece together Schuler's route. State police had said earlier theyhad received limited cooperation from the family.
State police Lt. Dominick Chiumento said investigators initiallydid not believe drugs or alcohol were involved because there was noobvious evidence at the crash scene.
A broken, 1.75-liter bottle of vodka was found days after thecrash when the police collision reconstruction unit began examiningdebris from the vehicle.
"You couldn't see it at first. I even looked at photos of thevan and wouldn't have been able to see it," Chiumento said.
Schuler crashed her brother's red Ford minivan about four hoursafter leaving an upstate campground where she spent the weekendwith her husband, two children and three nieces.
Ann Scott, co-owner of the Hunter Lake Campground in Parksville,said Schuler had not been drinking when she left.
"I've never seen her with a drink in her hand," Scott saidWednesday. "If she had alcohol on her breath, I would have smelledit, believe me."