Oprah Winfrey interviewed family members of Taconic Parkway crash victims...

Oprah Winfrey interviewed family members of Taconic Parkway crash victims on Tuesday. (Dec. 1, 2005) Credit: AP

Westchester's chief forensic toxicologist appeared on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" Tuesday and defended as "100 percent correct" the tests showing Diane Schuler was drunk and high in the deadly Taconic State Parkway crash.

>>PHOTOS: See the latest photos of the Schuler, Hance and Bastardi families

"There is no chance of error," said Elizabeth Spratt, director of the Westchester Department of Laboratories and Research, in a taped interview broadcast Tuesday. "We have standards, controls, checking and rechecking that we do for all of our work . . . and we stand by everything we reported."

Spratt's emphatic assertion in front of millions of Winfrey's viewers was the most forceful defense yet of an autopsy and drug tests that Schuler's family has publicly called flawed.

Multiple tests showed that Schuler's blood alcohol concentration was more than twice the legal limit at 0.19, Spratt said. Schuler had 113 nanograms of tetrahydrocannabinol - a psychoactive substance in marijuana - per milliliter of blood, which Spratt said Tuesday was "extremely high."

Marijuana breaks down quickly, Spratt said, so the high number made it likely Schuler smoked shortly before the crash.

"If I got a sample several hours after somebody smoked, I would see numbers like two, three, five, seven nanograms per [milliliter]," she said.

Asked about the tests by Winfrey, Thomas Ruskin, a private investigator hired by Schuler's husband, Daniel, said he "can't explain it." But he added: "I want to determine if those results are correct."

Schuler, 36, of West Babylon, drove a minivan the wrong way for 1.7 miles on the Taconic before smashing head-on into a sport utility vehicle, killing herself, four of the five children in her vehicle and three Yonkers men in the SUV.

Ruskin said his company has interviewed more than 50 witnesses but found no evidence of substance abuse history for Schuler. The family wants new tests conducted on Schuler's fluid samples but is short on money to pay for them, Ruskin told Newsday.

Michael Bastardi of Yonkers, whose brother and father died in the crash, questioned the legitimacy of Ruskin's probe.

The "53 to 57 people they interviewed in their investigation, not one person is under oath at all - not one," said Bastardi, whose attorney has said Daniel Schuler and others will be questioned under oath for a yet-to-be filed lawsuit.

>>PHOTOS: See the latest photos of the Schuler, Hance and Bastardi families

>>Click here to read parts of the 911 calls

>>COMPLETE COVERAGE: Taconic Parkway crash tragedy

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