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Call for Taconic crash driver's body to be exhumed

Diane and Daniel Schuler (Undated)

Diane and Daniel Schuler (Undated) Credit: Handout / File

A Taconic State Parkway crash victim family member Wednesday called for Diane Schuler's body to be exhumed and for testing of the West Babylon mother's hair for past drug use.

Michael Bastardi, whose brother, Guy Bastardi, and father, Michael Bastardi, were killed in the July 26 crash along with six others, said in a statement the hair testing could show whether Schuler, 36, had a long history of drug use before the collision.

Westchester authorities say Schuler was drunk and high when she drove a minivan the wrong way on the northbound Taconic, smashing into the Bastardis' sport utility vehicle in Mount Pleasant, N.Y. Killed along with Schuler and the Bastardis were her 2-year-old daughter, three young nieces and Bastardi friend, Daniel Longo.

Thomas Ruskin of CMP Protective and Investigative, a private firm hired by Schuler's family, said he knew of no hair samples taken before she was buried. The family hopes new toxicology tests will show she was not drunk and high but "has never eliminated the possibility of exhuming the body," he said.

Evidence of past drug use - family members initially said Schuler smoked pot regularly - came to light in police reports. Family members are now trying to clear her name.

Said Bastardi's statement: "Go ahead, exhume the body and let's get some hair follicles and just see how much of Diane's history of drug abuse we can find."

His family is suing Diane Schuler's estate and her brother, Warren Hance, whose minivan she was driving.

Bruce Goldberger, a professor of toxicology at the University of Florida College of Medicine, said hair analysis is rare, but tests of a 6-inch strand can detect drug and alcohol use going back a year.


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