The husband of an allegedly intoxicated woman who killed eight people by driving the wrong way on a New York highway "had a role" in the "murder" of the motorists, a family member of the dead charged today.
Michael Bastardi's father and brother were among the eight people killed on July 26 when Diane Schuler drove the wrong way for nearly 2 miles on the busy state parkway before slamming head-on into the Bastardi's SUV which was also carrying a family friend. Schuler was killed in the crash along with her 2-year-old daughter and three nieces. Her 5-year-old son was the only survivor.
A report by the medical examiner said Schuler, 36, was drunk at the time of the crash, with more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in her system, and had also ingested a large quantity of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Diane Schuler's husband, Daniel Schuler, has repeatedly defended his wife, saying she was not a drinker and more likely suffered from some kind of medical condition that caused the crash.
Michael Bastardi told "Good Morning America" today that Daniel Schuler's statement was unacceptable.
"Well, denial by Daniel Schuler, how he just,you know, just got to realize one thing here. How his wife, Diane, was drunk, on drugs, and murdered my family. I think he also had a role in it," Bastardi charged.
Neither Bastardi nor his lawyer Irving Anolik explicity said how Daniel Schuler had a role in the catastrophic accident, but suggested he was hiding drug use in the family. The Schulers' lawyer, Dominic Barbara, "has admitted that his client, Daniel Schuler, is involved with drugs and has a problem with drugs," Anolik said.
"The reason I say that is that, you will recall, at his press conferences and on the Larry King show, he said that no questions will be entertained involving his client, who supposedly is a law enforcement officer in Nassau County, concerning drugs," Anolik said. "Well, to me, that is the same thing as an admission. That if the question were asked, he'd probably have to invoke his privilege against self-incrimination."
Daniel Schuler is a public safety officer with the Nassau County Police Department on Long Island.
Anolik said he would ask the Westchester County District Attorney to convene a grand jury to force Daniel Schuler to answer questions under oath.
"There are questions that we need answered," Bastardi said.
Barbara, Schuler's lawyer, could not be immediately reached for comment.
Daniel Schuler announced with his lawyer on CNN's "Larry King Live" that he wants his wife's body exhumed and more tests be done in order to clear her name.
"We of course take no position on that. We're quite satisfied with the integrity of the medical examiner's report," Anolik said.
On July 26 Diane Schuler left a New York campground with her two children and three nieces in her van. Just hours later, Schuler was weaving wildly through oncoming traffic for nearly two miles before the crash ended so fatally.
While driving Schuler called her brother and said she was not feeling well. He asked her to pull over but she did not. Her brother was concerned enough to call the police.
Police believe it was approximately two hours after that phone call to her brother when Schuler turned down the exit ramp driving the wrong-way.
Prosecutors have said they will not file charges in relation to the crash.