The husband of the woman who police say killed eight people by driving drunk and stoned the wrong way on a New York highway insisted today the toxicology reports cannot be correct.
"My heart is at rest every night I go to bed. She did not drink," Daniel Schuler told a news conference 11 days after the horrific crash on the Taconic State Parkway.
Schuler's wife, Diane, is blamed for the July 26 head-on collision that killed her daughter and three of her nieces when she plowed into an SUV. Three men in the SUV also died. The only person to survive was Schuler's 5-year-old son.
A police toxicology report released this week concluded that Schuler had the equivalent of 10 drinks still in her stomach and had consumed a high amount of marijuana.
"No way, it can't be true," said Diane Schuler's sister-in-law Joy Schuler at the news conference. "There is no way she would ever jeopardize the children."
Schuler's husband said he never once saw his 36-year-old wife drunk since he met her.
"She did not drink. She was not an alcoholic," he insisted. "Something medically had to have happened."
"She was the perfect wife, an outstanding mother, hard worker, reliable person, trustworthy. I'd marry her again tomorrow," Daniel Schuler said while trying to hold back tears.
Dominic Barbara, a lawyer for the Schuler family, said Diane Schuler was diabetic and suggested that may have contributed to her disoriented condition that morning. He also suggested that Schuler may have suffered a stroke.
Barbara said the family had not yet decided whether to exhume the body for a second autopsy.
Barbara asked anyone with information about Schuler or the events leading to the crash to contact his investigators at the CMP Group in New York.
The families of the three men who died in the SUV have indicated they might sue whoever allowed Schuler to drive drunk.
"Any person who was aware that she was drinking is an accomplice," said Irving Anolik, a lawyer for the families of Guy Bastardi, 49, Michael Bastardi, 81, and Daniel Longo, 74, who died in the crash. "She didn't just wake up one morning with a drug problem and capable of drinking that much alcohol." Anolik made his warning Wednesday.
Schuler had a blood alcohol content of .19, more than double the legal limit, and was also "impaired by marijuana," according to a statement released by state attorney Janet Difiore citing a toxicology report by the Westchester County medical examiner.
Investigators could not determine if Schuler had been drinking while she was driving, but alcohol was in her stomach at the time of the autopsy and a broken bottle of vodka was found at the crash scene, New York State Police Major William Carey said at a press conference earlier this week.
It was not clear exactly how much or when Schuler smoked marijuana; the toxicology reported "high" levels of THC, the active ingredient in pot, Westchester director of toxicology Betsy Spratt said.
But "there were approximately 10 drinks still in her," Spratt said, that had yet to be metabolized.
The combination of alcohol and marijuana "intensified" the effects of each, Spratt said.
"With that level of alcohol we talk in ranges. She would've had difficulty with perception, judgment and memory. Around that level you get tunnel vision," Spratt said.
Carey said, "There's no indication there will be any criminal charges forthcoming."