The mystery of the tragic accident that took eight lives on New York's Taconic Parkway last Sunday has gotten deeper with the release of an autopsy report, stating that the driver of a vehicle going south in a northbound lane was drunk and stoned.
A toxicology report found that Diane Schuler of West Babylon, L.I., had the equivalent of ten shots of vodka and marijuana in her body.
A bottle of vodka was found in the mangled wreckage after Schuler's minivan slammed into oncoming traffic near Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., killing herself, her 2-year-old daughter, three nieces, and three men in another car. Her 5-year-old son is the sole survivor and is still recovering in the hospital.
Yesterday Daniel Schuler, grieving for the loss of both his wife and his little girl, Erin, spoke out in her defense:
"I never saw her drunk since the day I met her," he said at a press conference. Schuler wouldn't answer questions about marijuana use.
He blamed her apparent disorientation on a stroke, her diabetic condition, or an abscess in her mouth, reports CBS News correspondent Kelly Wallace.
"I go to bed every night knowing my heart is clear: She did not drink. She is not an alcoholic. Something medically had to happen," Daniel Schuler said.
Jay Schuler, Daniel's sister-in-law, also defended her on CBS' "The Early Show," against the toxicology report that claimed she drove five children in a car while high and stoned. "Diane would not do this," she told anchor Maggie Rodriguez.
"My feeling hasn't changed to Diane at all," Jay Schuler said. "She was a wonderful, wonderful mother, wonderful sister-in-law, wonderful friend.
"She was caring, loving, loved children. As I've stated before, I've left my son in her care numerous times, once when I left the country. There is not a doubt in my mind.
"Danny is heartbroken, heartbroken for the families," she continued. "They are in our thoughts and our prayers. We want them to know this is not Diane. We would never, never ever let this happen."
She said further investigation is required to find out what happened.
Daniel Schuler's attorney, Dominic Barbara, also questioned the evidence, saying it was inexplicable given how Diane Schuler appeared before the crash.
"Maggie, I'm going to ask you to explain how a woman gets up, eats breakfast, leaves the campground at 9:00 a.m., gets kisses from her husband, leaves other people, and she is not drunk," Barbara said.
By 1:35 p.m., she and seven others were dead.
"At some point something happens to this woman, there's no doubt about it," Barbara added. "We're finding more and more proof." He described a phone call from one of the children in which they observed Diane Schuler was "having problems forming words.
"That's not 'drunk,'" Barbara said.
The only survivor in the minivan was Diane's 5-year-old son, Brian, who is still hospitalized.
"Brian is a trooper," Jay Schuler said. "It's going to be a long haul. He will need some extensive rehab. We're just giving him love and support from the family. We are around him around the clock, just to make sure that he's okay."
The family is asking any witnesses with information about Diane Schuler prior to the accident to contact Tom Ruskin of CMP Group at (212) 734 2312.