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Attorney: Schuler child welfare probe 'appropriate'

Daniel Schuler walks with his sister-in-law after he

Daniel Schuler walks with his sister-in-law after he spoke to the media in Garden City. (Aug. 6, 2009) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

An attorney for two Westchester men killed in the Taconic State Parkway collision said Sunday a child welfare investigation into the wrong-way driver's husband was "appropriate, considering the circumstances."

"It would be hard to consider it not going on," said Irving Anolik, of Nanuet, citing autopsy results showing Diane Schuler, of West Babylon, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.19 and marijuana in her system when she drove south into the parkway's northbound lanes for nearly two miles before crashing head-on into a sport utility vehicle on July 26.

The accident killed Schuler, 36, and seven others, including Michael Bastardi, 81, and his son, Guy Bastardi, 49, whose family Anolik represents.

Suffolk Child Protective Services started a probe that will try to determine whether Daniel Schuler had knowledge of his wife's substance abuse the day of the crash and whether he could have taken action to protect his children, sources said. The Schulers' remaining child, Bryan, 5, survived the crash.

Anolik declined to say whether he believed Schuler should retain custody of Bryan.

"That has to be done by people who can study the situation and determine whether the child would be properly supervised," Anolik said.

Anolik also said the Bastardi family wants to know how Diane Schuler got the marijuana.

"They want justice," Anolik said. "I think criminality may be present if investigators can determine who supplied her with the drugs."

Lt. James Murphy of the New York State Police asked Sunday for more witnesses to come forward by calling 914-769-2600.

Anolik said a report Sunday that Daniel Schuler was arrested in 1995 by Nassau police and charged with driving while intoxicated was more evidence that Schuler should have recognized the signs of problem drinking based on his own past.

Schuler said last week he never saw his wife drunk, and his attorney Dominic Barbara said Diane Schuler had three medical conditions that might have contributed to the crash.

Barbara did not return calls Sunday night.

Photos: The latest from the Taconic Parkway tragedy and investigation

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