Taconic Crash Lawyer: 'No Alcohol in Her System' When She Left

Experts reject theory that the woman who killed 7 in New York suffered a stroke.

ByABC News
August 6, 2009, 7:18 PM

Aug. 7, 2009— -- The family of a woman who allegedly drove drunk and stoned the wrong way on a New York highway remains baffled about what happened and is appealing to anyone who saw Diane Schuler the day of the crash or has any information about her to contact its lawyer.

Schuler's family has rallied around the woman blamed for killing eight people, including herself, her daughter, three nieces and three men in a head-on collision on the Taconic State Parkway July 26. Diane Schuler was not a drinker, family members insist.

"I don't say that the report is accurate or not accurate," the Schuler's lawyer, Dominic Barbara, told "Good Morning America's" Chris Cuomo today referring to the police toxicology report. "What I say is that none of this case is logical. This is a woman who leaves a camp ground at 9 a.m. absolutely sober. ...We have video, we have tapes, we have people we spoke to. She had no alcohol in her system."

He later added, "There's no doubt she leaves that campground sober."

Schuler drove on the Taconic, heading in the wrong direction in the early afternoon. After dodging oncoming cars for 1.7 miles, she slammed into an SUV. Her minivan tumbled down an embankment and burst into flames.

The lawyer said that in one of four phone calls made from the Schuler's minivan before the crash, one of the children described her aunt as behaving strangely.

"We now have information about one of the phone calls where the child [in the car] says that her aunt is having problems speaking and seeing. Not slurred, but actually having trouble."

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 issue is what happened to this woman and how it happened," Barbara said. He later added, "It's not logical to just believe that these events occurred the way they did. It isn't who she was as a person."

Schuler, 36, was driving home to West Babylon, N.Y., from an upstate campground with her two children and three nieces in the car when she crashed. Her 5-year-old son, Bryan, survived the crash, but daughter Erin and nieces Alyson, Emma and Katie were killed, along with three people in another vehicle.

In a press conference held Thursday, Barbara pinned the accident on a stroke caused by an underlying diabetes condition. When asked about that theory today, Barbara said further examinations needed to be conducted to fully understand the cause of the accident.

But Barbara's explanation did not match some of the facts revealed by state police. Schuler's blood alcohol level was 0.19, over twice the legal state limit. The toxicology reports from the Westchester County medical examiner's office showed Schuler had the equivalent of 10 drinks in her stomach and elevated levels of THC, the active chemical in marijuana.

Investigators found a broken bottle of vodka at the crash scene, but Barbara's private investigator Thomas Ruskin told "GMA" that "we don't know if the vodka bottle was in the car or out of the car," because the car rolled.

"She was not a drinker. She was not an alcoholic," Daniel Schuler said of his wife during a news conference Thursday. "Something medically had to have happened."

"We had an occasional pina colada at a family barbecue," Jay Schuler, the wife of Daniel Schuler's brother, said on "GMA." "She was meticulous, safe, I trusted her with my son when I left the country ... those three girls before her own children were her life."