Taconic crash victims' relatives satisfied with probe

Westchester DA Janet DiFiore, right, (with Donna Longo)

Westchester DA Janet DiFiore, right, (with Donna Longo) announces prosecutors found that Taconic crash driver Diane Schuler was the only one criminally culpable in the collision that claimed eight lives. Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

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The relatives of some victims of the fatal crash on the Taconic State Parkway last month said they were satisfied with the investigation by state police and Westchester authorities into the tragedy although the probe yielded no criminal charges against anyone.

But they said Daniel Schuler, 36, of West Babylon, whose wife, Diane, 36, drove the family's minivan the wrong way down the parkway and struck a SUV - killing seven people and herself - is not off the hook: Some relatives of the victims said they are exploring filing a civil lawsuit against him.

"I'm appalled that they won't face the fact that she was drunk and killed seven innocent lives and ruined the lives of so many people," said Michael Bastardi Jr., who lost his brother, Guy Bastardi, 49, and father, Michael Bastardi, 81, and a friend, Daniel Longo, 74, in the July 26 crash.

Bastardi, accompanied by his wife Jeanne, Longo's nephew Andrew Longo, appeared with Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore and state police officials at a news conference Tuesday in White Plains.

Afterward, Bastardi said he is satisfied with DiFiore's investigation, which did not result in charges because witnesses said Schuler seemed sober when she left the Sullivan County campground just before the crash.

That means, authorities said, they can't prove Daniel Schuler or anyone else knew his wife was drunk and high at the time of the crash.

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"It doesn't change anything," Bastardi said of the results, adding that he supports DiFiore 100 percent. "The fact is, she was drunk and murdered seven innocent people."

The Bastardis have hired attorney Brian Sichol of Suffern, who said he is looking into filing a civil action and that he has two investigators on the case.

The Westchester medical examiner's office ruled out medical causes for the crash and said, at the time, Schuler's blood alcohol concentration was .19 percent, more than twice the legal limit, and she had in her the psychoactive component of marijuana when she crashed."We are hopeful that at some point there may come a day that the husband of Diane Schuler will no longer ignore the facts and admit that his wife had a drinking problem," said Irving Anolik of Nanuet, an attorney and spokesman for the Bastardis. He said that the family hopes to find out how Diane Schuler obtained marijuana.to here

John Guarneri, a Yonkers-based attorney for the Longo family, thanked first responders and for the outpouring of support from the public as he said the Longos were having a hard time dealing with the tragedy.

"They're upset about everything that happened," he said.

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