Taconic Wrong-Way Crash Lawyer Seeks Possible 'Accessories' to Homicide

Civil suit seeks to learn if anyone gave booze to wrong-way driver.

ByLEE FERRAN via logo
October 15, 2009, 9:26 PM

Oct. 27, 2009— -- The family of two of the eight victims in the deadly crash on New York's Taconic Parkway in July plan to file a civil lawsuit to determine who, if anyone, provided alcohol to the wrong-way driver and who could be considered accessories to homicide, an attorney for the family said.

"If the grand jury determines that alcohol was provided to the deceased, [driver] Diane Schuler, the persons doing that or giving that to her would be accessories, in my opinion, to the commission of the crime of homicide," Irving Anolik, attorney for the Bastardi family, told "Good Morning America."

Guy Bastardi, Michael Bastardi Sr. and another man died when Diane Schuler's car, which was carrying Schuler and five children, smashed into them head on. Schuler had been driving for nearly two miles into oncoming traffic before the accident. Only one child from Schuler's car, her 5-year-old son Bryan, survived.

Toxicology reports determined that Schuler had been drunk and high at the time of the accident and had a blood alcohol content of more than twice the legal limit.

"Today is three months since my family was killed," an emotional Michael Bastardi Jr., son and brother to two of the victims, said.

Schuler's husband, Daniel Schuler, has repeatedly defended his wife, saying she was not a drinker and that the medical examiner's report was inaccurate.

"She did not drink. She was not an alcoholic," Schuler said Aug. 6. "Something medically had to have happened."

Daniel Schuler declined to comment to ABC News on the pending civil lawsuit.

Schuler was driving home with the children from a campground in upstate New York, where witnesses said she seemed fine.

Although investigators and a Westchester County district attorney said the criminal investigation was officially closed, the planned civil suit is the latest incarnation of the Bastardi family's push to look at others who could be held responsible.

Michael Bastardi Jr. told "GMA" in September he believed Daniel Schuler was involved in creating the circumstances that led to his family's death.

"How his wife, Diane, was drunk, on drugs and murdered my family ... I think he also had a role in it," Bastardi said.

911 Tapes: Desperate Child Passengers Said Schuler Might Be 'Sick'

In 911 tapes, a family friend told emergency dispatchers that at least one of the terrified kids in the July crash managed to call relatives to plead for help minutes before she died in the deadly head-on collision.

"The girls just called in distress," the friend told dispatchers, apparently referring to driver Diane Schuler's three nieces who were in the car. "They said the aunt is driving very erratically. They think she's sick."

The family tried to call back, but by then the girls were "like radio silent on the cell phones," the friend said. Other tapes describe authorities attempting to organize a search for the vehicle, unaware it was already reportedly too late.

CLICK HERE to listen to the 911 tapes.

In another 911 call, a woman, apparently a witness to the crash's aftermath, described the scene.

"Yeah, there are [injuries]," the woman said as another screamed in the background. "There are like little kids. The kids [are] not moving. There's a whole bunch of kids. Honestly, the car's smashed."

CLICK HERE to listen to the call.

Sole Survivor 'Miracle Child' Recovers

Schuler's son Bryan was the crash's only survivor and suffered two broken legs and a broken arm, among other serious injuries.

Thomas Ruskin, a private investigator whom Daniel Schuler hired to look into the accident, said Schuler looked "completely" normal when she stopped at a convenient store to purchase Tylenol or Advil hours before the crash.

Investigators had hoped that as the crash's sole survivor, Bryan would be able to shed light on the minutes that led up to the crash. But the boy has not said much, Ruskin said.

"He doesn't seem to remember right now," Ruskin told "Good Morning America" Oct. 16. "He is 5 years old and he is recovering from very severe injuries; fracture plus head trauma he suffered as part of the injuries at the accident.

"He is a miracle child, there's no question about it," he said.

Ruskin said he is now running his own tests to determine what happened that day in hopes of piecing together the moments that led up to the crash.

ABC News' Rich McHugh contributed to this report.

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