Just another customer.
That’s how Diane Schuler appears in a security video released Wednesday from an upstate gas station just three hours before police say she was drunk and high while driving a minivan, causing a wrong-way crash that killed her and seven others.
“She seemed perfectly fine,” said Sullivan Sunoco manager Crystal Davis.
Meanwhile, Suffolk Surrogate Judge John M. Czygier, Jr., Wednesday took another step toward allowing wrongful death lawsuits to proceed in the Schuler case, issuing an order giving Schuler’s husband or anyone else 10 days to take over her estate before a public administrator is named. Daniel Schuler’s attorney says Schuler will not administer the estate.
In the video, Diane Schuler casually walked into the Liberty, N.Y., station wearing sunglasses, a long-sleeved black T-shirt and light-colored cropped pants. She seemed to scan the Sullivan Sunoco as she marched to one end of it.
Schuler then whirled around in her sneakers and walked up to a young man behind the counter, touching her hair as she asked a question.
“She wanted a certain kind of pain reliever, liquid gel caps. We were out of the kind she wanted,” said
Davis, who added that the cashier who spoke with Schuler that day did not want to comment.
Schuler spent 12 seconds in the store and then walked out at 10:49 a.m., got back in her brother’s minivan with her two young children and three nieces and drove away. At 1:35 p.m., police say she was going the wrong way on the Taconic State Parkway and smashed into a sport utility vehicle.
Toxicology tests showed her blood-alcohol concentration was .19, more than twice the legal limit, and that she had high levels of marijuana in her system.
The video also shows Schuler pumping gas for about three minutes, though there are 90 seconds of gaps — four points at which the frame and its running clock freeze before restarting again 10 to 43 seconds later. Footage from two other camera angles in which Schuler does not appear also have freeze frame gaps.
Law enforcement sources said they were not aware of the gaps and got their copy in August from private detectives for Schuler’s family.
Thomas Ruskin, head of the private investigation agency the Schulers hired, said he does not recall time gaps. “Any gap that may exist doesn’t allow her enough time to do anything,” he said.
The video was released Wednesday by the Westchester district attorney’s office in response to a Newsday Freedom of Information Law request. Prosecutors turned down a request to release a video showing Schuler and the children at a nearby McDonald’s in Liberty shortly before the gas station visit, citing privacy concerns.