Mother of 3 Girls Killed in Taconic Crash Sues Daniel Schuler
Jackie Hance says daughter died in terror and pain in head-on accident.
July 27, 2011— -- Jackie Hance, who lost all three of her daughters in the horrific wrong-way crash on the Taconic Parkway just two years ago is suing the husband of the drunk driver, her brother-in-law Daniel Schuler.
News of Hance's suit comes just a day after Schuler himself filed suit against New York State and Hance's husband Warren Hance, alleging that the Chevy Trailblazer the family had borrowed from his brother-in-law was faulty.
Jackie Hance alleges that her girls, Emma, 8; Alyson, 7; and Katie, 5, knew they were going to die and "suffered . . . terror, fear of impending death, extreme horror, fright, [and] mental anguish," according to The New York Post.
Schuler's wife Diane entered the wrong way on the Taconic Parkway in 2009 and drove for nearly two miles before slamming head-on into another vehicle. Eight were killed in all: Guy Bastardi, 43, his father Michael Bastardi, 81, and a family friend, Daniel Longo, 72, as well as the Hance girls, Schuler and her 2-year-old daughter Erin.
The only survivor was Schuler's son Bryan, then 5, who now lives with an ocular nerve impairment.
Toxicology reports later revealed that Diane Schuler, 36, had a blood alcohol level of .19 -- the equivalent of 10 shots of vodka -- and a high level of THC from smoking marijuana.
The Hance girls were killed on their way home from a camping trip in upstate New York when their aunt drove a reckless 70 mph down the New York Thruway and into the northbound Taconic Parkway. The Schulers had borrowed the minivan from their in-laws, the Hances.
Daniel Schuler, who has tried to exhume his wife's body to prove her innocence in the crash, has also sued New York State, alleging the signposting on the parkway was inadequate. He has steadfastly said his wife was "not a drunk driver,"
Just minutes before the deadly crash, Hance's 9-year-old daughter, Emma, had called her father to say, "Something's wrong with Aunt Diane."
That cry became the name of thedocumentary by Liz Garbus that premiered this week on HBO and will air every Monday until Aug. 15.
The Hances refused to participate in the making of the documentary.
Just a week ago, Jackie Hance, 40, of Floral Park, N.Y., announced that she was pregnant through in vitro fertilization and expecting in September.
"Parenting is not something you can ever let go of, even if your children are gone," Hance wrote in Ladies Home Journal.
She wrote that her friends persuaded her to have another child as a way of coping with the "torture" that she has felt since her girls died, unable even to cook because it reminds her of her daughters' excitement at mealtime.
"People always ask how I feel about Diane," writes Hance. "You can't imagine how complex that question is. How does a person go from being like a sister to me -- adored by my girls and cherished by my husband -- to being the one who ruined our lives?"
Hance's lawsuit was filed in state Supreme Court in Suffolk where lower courts limit awards to $25,000, according to the Post.