No Charges to Be Filed in Wrong-Way Crash That Left Eight Dead

Westchester County DA: Charges died with Diane Schuler.

ByABC News via logo
August 18, 2009, 12:05 AM

Aug. 18, 2009 -- No charges will be filed in relation to the fatal collision last month caused by a mother -- drunk and high, according to toxicology tests -- who drove the wrong way down the Taconic State Parkway in New York, killing herself and seven other people, a prosecutor said.

"Diane Schuler died in the crash and the charges died with her," Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore said.

The Associated Press reported today that investigators could not find any evidence that Schuler, whose daughter and nieces were among the dead, drank alcohol or smoked marijuana before getting in the car for the 2 1/2 hour drive home from upstate New York.

Her husband had followed in a second car with the family dog and was not involved in the crash.

Schuler underwent a significant change over a small span of time that would drastically change the lives of three families, according to a private investigator hired by the Schuler family.

Tom Ruskin, the president of CMP Group Investigations, has been hard at work trying to piece together the final moments of the crash that has horrified the nation and left Schuler's loved ones baffled.

"We've got multiple investigators working hundreds of hours trying to retrace her steps," he said. "Toll receipts, cell phone records, credit card receipts."

The timeline began at 9:30 a.m. at a campground in upstate New York. Ruskin says shortly after Schuler left for home, appearing sober, she stopped at McDonald's.

In surveillance video captured shortly after at a gas station, Schuler appeared sober and in control, Ruskin says.

"You see Diane Schuler filling up the minivan, and then you very clearly see her entering the convenience store," he says. "We now know that she was attempting to purchase Tylenol or Advil gel caps. Did she appear normal? Absolutely."

At 11:37 a.m., Schuler's niece Emma, 8, called her father, Warren Hance, Schuler's brother, to tell him they were running late. At 12:08 p.m. the Hances called back and had what has been described as a "normal" conversation with Schuler. But over the next 48 minutes, something went terribly wrong.

At 12:56 p.m., Emma called her father back in a panic.

"What did Emma say to her dad?" Ruskin said. "She's expressing ... something is wrong with Diane. Diane is incoherent, she is confused and they are lost."

The call dropped out and Schuler's cell phone was later found on top of a wall by a bridge near the highway. "It means 99.9 percent sure she got out of the car," Ruskin later said.

Schuler's brother called the police to ask them to issue an Amber alert. But by then, it was likely too late, according to Ruskin.