Daniel Schuler does not have the money to order new toxicology tests to disprove his wife was drunk and high in the wrong-way Taconic State Parkway crash that killed her and seven others, his private investigator said Monday.
New details also emerged Monday about the desperate police search for the minivan carrying five children that Schuler's wife, Diane, was operating on July 26 after her niece called a family member to say Diane was driving erratically.
According to taped police phone calls obtained by WNYW / 5 and the New York Post, in response to a call from the nieces' father, Warren Hance, New York State Police sent out patrol cars and planned to ask Verizon to track the minivan using Diane Schuler's cell phone, without knowing she had inexplicably abandoned it on the side of the New York State Thruway.
"Just tell [Verizon] we believe we have a medical emergency with a bunch of kids in the car," Capt. Evelyn Mallard tells a sergeant in one call, made without knowing the crash had already occurred at 1:35 p.m. It's not clear if any request was made.
Just before Schuler abandoned the phone, someone - perhaps Diane or maybe one of the young passengers seeking help - dialed wrong numbers three times, said Thomas Ruskin of the CMP Protective and Investigation Group, hired by Daniel Schuler to probe the case.
About 25 minutes after those 1:10 p.m. calls, Schuler drove the minivan the wrong way down the Taconic. Citing toxicology tests, authorities said she had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.19 - more than twice the legal limit - and "high levels" of marijuana in her system.
Schuler died, along with her 2-year-old daughter, her three nieces and three Yonkers men in the SUV. Only Schuler's son, Bryan, 5, survived the collision.
Schuler's husband has disputed the toxicology findings and announced in August that he wanted new tests conducted and a new autopsy.
But Ruskin said Monday that the Nassau public safety officer is out of money and needs a family loan to take the samples of blood, urine, eye fluid and stomach contents extracted by Westchester authorities and have them tested by a new lab.
"They are not a family of means," Ruskin said, adding that the cost of his investigation and attorney Dominic Barbara has become a "financial burden." He would not disclose Barbara's fee.
Ruskin would not reveal the exact cost of the tests, but experts said the 13 tests performed by Westchester - plus the costs of transporting and storing them - could cost between $5,000 and $7,000 at a reputable private laboratory.
A separate issue, exhuming Diane Schuler's body, would cost several thousand dollars more, but Ruskin said the Schulers want to see the new toxicology before deciding on disinterment.