Posted On: January 9, 2010 by Steven J. Malman

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed in Wrong-Way Drunk Driving Accident that Killed Eight on Taconic Parkway

Nearly six months after 36-year-old Diane Schuler drove the wrong-way on the Taconic Parkway while she was allegedly drunk and high, the family of two of the eight victims that died is filing a wrongful death lawsuit against her estate. The tragic car crash, which occurred on July 26, claimed the lives of Schuler, three of her nieces, her two-year-old daughter, 81-year-old Michael Bastardi, his 49-year-old son Michael, and their friend 74-year-old Daniel Longo. Schuler’s 5-year-old son Bryan survived the wrong-way car crash with serious injuries, including severe head trauma.

The motor vehicle accident made national headlines after Schuler drove the wrong-way for nearly two miles, disregarding signs and ignoring the warnings of other drivers. According to a toxicology report, Schuler had marijuana in her system and the equivalent of 10 liquor shots in her bloodstream. She and the kids were coming home from a camping trip when the auto collision happened. A broken bottle of vodka was discovered in the minivan’s wreckage.

The wrongful death lawsuit accuses Schuler of reckless, wanton, and willful actions, driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and disregarding other motorists' warnings that she was driving her minivan the wrong-way. According to the civil complaint, the Bastardis experienced mental trauma, terror, pain, suffering, and serious personal injuries prior to their death. Schuler’s brother Warren Hance is also a wrongful death defendant. He owned the minivan that Schuler was driving.

Schuler’s husband Daniel refuses to accept autopsy findings that his wife was drunk and high. He says an undiagnosed medical problem may have caused her erratic behavior that day. However, according to one report, he told police his wife occasionally smoked pot to alleviate stress.

Suit Filed in Wrong-Way Crash That Killed 8 on Taconic, NY Times, December 10, 2009

Loyal To The End: Grieving Schuler Denies Reports, WCBSTV, August 7, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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