The sister-in-law of Diane Schuler, the alleged drunken driver who died along with seven others in a fiery wrong-way crash on the Taconic State Parkway, told investigators Schuler was a heavy marijuana user and drinker, the attorney for the family of two of those killed said Saturday.
Irving Anolik, who represents the family of Michael Bastardi and his son Guy, said state investigation documents contradict the frequent assertions of Diane Schuler's husband, Daniel, that she rarely if ever drank or smoked pot.
In an interview with state police, Joan Schuler, the wife of Daniel's brother, told investigators that Diane "smoked pot all the time, after the kids went to sleep, after they went to school," Anolik said. "She smoked it before she went to bed." Anolik said he did not have a copy of the reports, which were being handled by a second lawyer who was unavailable for comment Saturday.
On July 26, after leaving an upstate campground, Diane Schuler, 36, of West Babylon, drove a minivan the wrong way for nearly two miles on the Taconic State Parkway before smashing head-on into a sport utility vehicle, killing herself, four of the five children in her vehicle and the three Yonkers men in the SUV.
Toxicology tests showed she had a blood-alcohol concentration of .19 percent - more than twice the legal limit of .08 - and high levels of marijuana in her system at the time.
Daniel Schuler has said he'd never seen his wife drunk and that she only occasionally smoked pot. In a statement to state police July 31, he said he had two beers and Diane two daiquiris the Friday night before the Sunday crash, Anolik said.
"That's totally ridiculous. They had a party Saturday night. Why would you drink Friday night but not Saturday night?" Anolik said.
Thomas Ruskin, an investigator hired by the Schulers, said that he had not seen the reports, but that the account of Joan Schuler's statements about Diane's substance use was "totally contrary" to his investigation. Ruskin also said the period after the crash was "a very traumatic time" for the Schuler family and that "things being attributed to Joan are not the way Joan would describe Diane now and are not the truth." He said previously that his company found no evidence of a history of substance abuse.
Lucian Chalfen, spokesman for the Westchester County district attorney's office, confirmed that a 90-minute meeting took place Friday at the request of the Bastardi family.
Attorneys for the family had previously requested copies of investigation documents, he said, and were provided with copies of New York State Police reports, crash scene photos and witness statements, including those of Daniel and Joan Schuler. The meeting was held "to discuss their feelings regarding the case," Chalfen said.
Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore ruled out a grand jury presentation related to Daniel Schuler and closed the crash probe on Aug. 18, saying that only Diane could have been charged. Messages left for Daniel Schuler's attorney Dominic Barbara and Joan Schuler were not returned Saturday.