After crash, year of grief for Bastardi family

From left, Roseann Guzzo, Michael Bastardi, Jr., and

From left, Roseann Guzzo, Michael Bastardi, Jr., and Margaret Nicotina, all surviving sons and daughters of Michael Bastardi, Sr, who was killed by wrong way driver Diane Schuler this past summer on the Taconic Parkway, speak with the press during a wind-swept press conference at the Westchester County Courthouse Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009. (Credit: Craig Ruttle)

For the Bastardi family, the past year has been devoid of the joy that once marked rituals like birthdays and Father's Day.

Those holidays of 2009 were full of "talking, laughing, hanging out," of gifts exchanged, of generous helpings of manicotti and shrimp francese and salads and cookies, said Michael Bastardi Jr. His father, Michael, and brother Guy and their friend Daniel Longo, all of Yonkers, were killed when their vehicle was struck July 26, 2009, by a speeding, wrong-way driver who was drunk and high on marijuana.

Since then, the Bastardis' life has been filled with church and grave visits, and a focus on details about what led up to the deaths on the Taconic. And on Monday, near the exact time of last year's fatal crash, Bastardi Jr. plans to make his first visit to the spot on the Taconic State Parkway where they died.

"I want to put down a wreath or a cross where the accident happened," he said.

The Bastardis have filed a lawsuit against the estate of Diane Schuler, and against Warren Hance, who lost his three daughters in the crash. Hance owned the minivan Diane Schuler was driving that day.

"I'd like to know more about Diane Schuler, what went on that weekend. Has it happened before? Is this her lifestyle?" Bastardi said.

Daniel Schuler, Diane's widower, did not respond to requests for comment.

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