Service memorializes 2009 Taconic victims

Warren and Jackie Hance and their children, left

Warren and Jackie Hance and their children, left to right, Alyson, Kate, and Emma, in an undated photo. The children were killed in a crash on the Taconic Parkway on July 26, 2009. (Credit: Handout)

Mourners tied lime green ribbons around trees across Floral Park Thursday to memorialize three little girls from the village killed in 2009 when their aunt, driving drunk, high and the wrong way on the Taconic State Parkway, crashed a family minivan.

The pastor at Our Lady of Victory Church, the family's parish, dedicated the morning and afternoon Masses in the sisters' honor, according to several women who attended.

"I think everyone still gets a bubble in their throat" when remembering the girls and how they died, one woman who declined to give her name said after the service.

The ribbons bore the first initials of each Hance girl -- Emma, 8; Alyson, 7; and Katie, 5 -- separated by a heart.

The service marked three years since July 26, 2009, when their aunt, Diane Schuler of West Babylon, barreled the wrong way down the Taconic State Parkway in Westchester County for nearly two miles, killing a total of eight, including Schuler herself, and her daughter, Erin, 2.

The crash also killed three Yonkers men in a sport utility vehicle the minivan hit head on: Guy Bastardi, 49, his father, Michael Bastardi, 81, and their friend, Daniel Longo, 74.

Schuler, 36, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.19 percent -- more than twice the legal limit of .08 -- and had recently used marijuana, according to police toxicology tests. Investigators also found a bottle of vodka in the minivan's charred wreckage.

Daniel Schuler has vehemently denied his wife was drunk, high or both. He is raising the couple's other child, Bryan, now 8, the crash's sole survivor.

Approached at their homes, Daniel Schuler declined to comment on Tuesday, as did Jackie Hance, the mother of the Hance girls. She announced last July in an article in Ladies' Home Journal that she was newly pregnant. The Hances had a baby girl, Kasey Rose, according to the website of the family's foundation.

Meanwhile, a tangle of suits and countersuits filed by families affected by the crash are wending their way through the court system.

Among the people being sued is Warren Hance, father of the three sisters. Hance is in civil jeopardy because he owned the minivan Diane Schuler was driving.

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