Diane Schuler: An Interesting Perspective
When I first wrote up the Diane Schuler tragedy back in July of 2009, the facts were still coming in. I tried to keep every up to the minute with frequent updates, but it was impossible to catch every development when it happened.
Fortunately for this website, one of our regulars, FuzzyWuzzy, became admittedly obsessed with finding the truth behind all the bullshit that came out of the Schuler and Hance family camps concerning the head-on collision that claimed the lives of Diane and 7 innocent victims. He posted several comments stating his findings, and they were good – very, very good.
Because the Schuler and Hance families have worked so hard to confuse the issue as to what really happened the day in July, Fuzzy debunked just about every lie they told, and also came up with some very interesting theories about Diane’s thinking. He also didn’t have many nice things to say about Diane’s husband Daniel. I can safely say that I probably read 95% of the articles and official documents released on this case, and Fuzzy’s article here is hands down the most complete, thorough, and well written piece I’ve seen on the Diane Schuler tragedy.
But perhaps he may have gotten a little too close to the truth, because Fuzzy posted the same comments he posted on PYSIH on several other websites. He informed me the other day that those comments were being suddenly and systematically removed from most of the websites other than PYSIH. I found that a bit curious.
So, to more prominently display his work on our website, and to make sure people who want to read what he found out will be able to do so, I asked FuzzyWuzzy to consolidate all his comments into one article that I could publish on our front page. This is the result of all his hard work.
Please read this, you won’t be disappointed. Some of the author’s conclusions are pure conjecture – he states this clearly in a couple of places – but most of what he concludes is backed up with solid facts that can’t be made to disappear. Unlike those comments FuzzyWuzzy made on certain other websites, websites that don’t seem to hold the First Amendment in any kind of regard
-Max The Cat
The Diane Schuler tragedy on the Taconic in July 2009 has been out of the news for a while now. However, the innocent victims of her actions have recently filed a civil suit since the Westchester County DA declined to follow through on the case to examine the ‘strong fragrance of criminality’ noted by the victims lawyers. There is much to this story that has not been revealed, and the public has a right to know what kind of crazy people are driving our roads. There will never be closure for the victims, or for the many people who were affected by this story.
Since I drive the same route where this accident took place, I can’t get it out of my mind, seeing that spot week after week and trying to make sense of it. So much information was released by the media, the police reports, the surveillance video etc… that I could not help but look at it all in detail and try to make sense of it for myself.
Here is what I have come up with, much of it is based on the facts presented, much of it I have obviously inferred, but after many hours of consideration, I think my story is a reasonably plausible explanation for something so outrageous that it almost defies the human mind to comprehend.
The more I read about this case, the clearer it gets; it was a murder/suicide. The official story put out by her family is that ‘something medical had to have happened’. That the toxicology report saying she was drunk and high on pot is wrong. That she never drank. But the evidence is not there, and in fact has been disputed by family members who said she smoked pot regularly and her husband who publicly said she never drank, but told the police she drank the weekend of the crash.
I, and every other sane person, disagrees with the absurd theories put forth so far, Anbesol, stroke, toothache, bump on the leg…. etc. This is not the ‘mommy’s a secret addict’ story like the media has perpetuated to no end, she was uniquely crazy and suicidal and had to know what she was doing. Those people know what happened and have been protecting themselves since the brother first called the police and sugar-coated the situation as ‘a possible medical emergency’ and the husband only can say ’she was sober when she left..” so its not my fault. The husband hired shark lawyer Dominic Barbera and Tom Ruskin, convicted felon private investigator to defend Diane’s image to the public.
Private investigator Thomas Ruskin, 55, of CMP Protective & Security Group of Manhattan, was an NYPD detective until he was indicted in 1996 in Louisiana on a 12-count federal indictment, charging him with several felonies, including conspiring “to defraud various commercial airlines,” according to federal court documents.
By way of background told by those involved, Diane Schuler, her husband Danny and their 2 small children went camping with Diane’s brother’s 3 children at their camper that was set up in a campsite in Sullivan County NY. The story goes that Danny went to the campsite on Thursday morning for a day or two of solitary fishing, just him and his dog. Diane worked Thursday and Friday, then packed up her kids, drove from eastern Long Island to Floral Park NY to pick up the other three kids and drive her brothers minivan to the camp site on Friday evening. None of the witness reports say anyone saw Diane at the campsite, but the owner said she saw them leave around 9:30 Sunday morning for the 140 or so mile trip back home.
They left a campsite in separate vehicles, with Diane taking all 5 kids under the age of 9 while Danny took the dog. Diane stopped at McDonald’s around 10 am, then stopped for gas around 10:45, then hit the highway to drop off her brothers kids and then pick up her car and continue home with her kids. The story did not pan out the way it was supposed to.
Here’s how it went.
At the first stop at McDonald’s, Diane was caught on video apparently (it has not been released) having a discussion with the cashier and then the manager trying to get Chicken Selects during breakfast since they do not serve them at that hour, eating and letting the kids play on the playground. She convinced them to make them. Maybe she argued with them at McDonald’s to get her kids their last favorite meal and let them play in the playground there since she was gearing up for the fatal ride. Was it premeditated? She fed the kids, got her OJ mixer to go. The McDonald’s employees told police she did not seem intoxicated.
Later, her defenders used the Chicken Selects defense and state the McDonald’s employees determined she was not drunk. Like no drunk person has ever successfully ordered at McDonald’s apparently. Of course; there is no chance the McDonald’s employee’s, especially a manager, will admit anything suggesting they allowed an intoxicated person to leave their premises with 5 children in a vehicle. So there is zero value in any statement made by these employees, they were not under oath, plus they were interviewed by a convicted felon (Tom Ruskin) and the statement is not consistent with the official police report which does not mention any manager interaction or special orders etc… They have every possible reason to lie to cover their liability.
Think about it, why has there been no crazy Dominic Barbera theory that she got sick after eating at McDonald’s? With all the crazy theories they have put out there you would think this would be on the top of the list. So is there some conspiracy between the McDonald’s employees and the Schuler’s. If they thought she was drunk at McDonald’s, and made a scene requiring a manager to intervene (which was not in the police report) and then they gave her what she wanted and got rid of her, that implicates them, if they say she was drunk, it also implicates Danny who said she was not drunk ½ hour prior. This is just not a reliable account as both parties stand to lose if they make any admission she was impaired.
The next video is of Diane at a gas station where she pulls in, pumps her gas, then walks into the store where she takes 8 steps in and back out, pausing for a second to ask the clerk something. This clerk declined being interviewed by police, but did speak to Tom Ruskin and apparently stated she was sober. But the video shows he did not even look up as she walked in, plus she is wearing sunglasses the whole time.
I watched the gas station video a couple of times, first, she walks in and out of the place in about 10 seconds, the guy doesn’t even look up as she enters and the exchange seen can’t be more than on second as she asks something as she walks out the door and gets in the van where she sits for a few minutes, possibly dumping vodka into the OJ from McDonald’s?
If anything the video shows her as a reckless driver. She drives like a maniac. She peels out from the pumps at a much higher rate of speed than other cars in the video, whips around 180 degrees past the other pumps on the wrong side, (if someone had been pulling up she would have hit them head on) then she flies out the entrance, staying to the left side of the entrance (IN) where oncoming cars would be coming in to the station, then you can see her zooming out into oncoming traffic lane on the wrong side of the exit to make her left turn across the lane of oncoming traffic! The only thing this video ‘proves’ is that drunk or sober, she is a terror on the road and a menace
It looks like she peeled out of that gas station with a death wish. She drove like a maniac until she was numb enough to not care. She must have told her brother and sister in law something in those phone calls that sealed her fate, she left the phone and with it all hope of being stopped or saved, she drove up the Saw Mill to the Taconic, turned around and came back to end it all. Was she not confused, but rather building up her nerve.
Many witness reports from the police detail her crazed ride down Route 17 and onto the New York State Thruway, where she tailgated, honked, flashed her brights, passed cars on the shoulder, stopped at least twice to be sick by the side of the road, drove on the grass at the Ramapo Rest Area.
The next stop was just over the Tappan Zee Bridge, where the crux of the ending of the story seems to have developed. One of her brother’s kids, Emma, called home scared, talking about the slurred speech of Diane. Several phone calls later with her brother and sister in law, something happened.
She got out of the car and left the phone by the side of the road to eliminate the distraction. The phone probably got dumped because the kids kept calling home. I think this is where her plan was crystallized. Something came out in those calls that she could not live with. She knew they were coming to look for her as her brother told her to stay there, he was coming to get her. As soon as the kids told the brother what the road signs said, she went in the opposite direction, north, up the Saw Mill so they would be looking in the wrong place. She was not confused, she was still making premeditated decisions to carry out the plan.
Then she told her brother she was on Southern State Parkway on Long Island, come on, no matter how drunk you are you can tell the difference between the 2 mile long Tappan Zee toll bridge soaring over the Hudson and Southern State pkwy. She had gone through the toll literally 30 seconds before making the call. She didn’t crash into the toll booth and was able to pull over to the pull off on the right shoulder. The 4 or 5 right hand toll lanes there are all cash only, since they claim they checked the time on her EZpass, that means she probably went through tolls on the left and had to navigate across at least 5 lanes of toll plaza traffic to the pull off without hitting anything.
The details of these phone calls are the key. But I am afraid the brother is not telling the whole story about the phone calls with Diane. Both of them talked to her, but I really think it was the kids that called 1st, then Warren called back and got her on the phone. The content of this call is the key to her mindset. I really doubt she said she wasn’t feeling well and had tunnel vision, etc…if she was slurring and calling her brother Warren by her husband Danny’s name, she was out of it and not going to be describing her symptoms like that. I think they are putting words in her mouth.
What was said that made her get out of the van and put the phone on the divider? What made her drive away in the opposite direction they would have thought she was going in to look for her?
She hung up on Warren, left the phone and took off in the opposite direction fully aware of what she was doing and she wouldn’t be distracted by his repeated calls her phone picked up as missed calls. So why didn’t he call the police right away?
Instead, he drove all the way to Westchester looking for her and then stopped at the police station. It was his wife Jackie who called the police from home after Warren left. In the police calls when they were looking for her, they never mention the vision, or confusion problems, he only describes it a possible medical emergency. The cops were probably looking for someone stopped by the side of the road when they should have put out an APB for a crazy confused driver menacing the population of the roads.
Tapes of phone calls to the police were released. Where they are attempting to track her cell phone. But it was too late, an hour had passed since the last phone contact with Diane, and by the time Warren arrived at the Police station, Danny was home already and everyone else was already dead. Another thing I noticed on the tapes of the brother at the police station is that when they are discussing the cell phone they mention that the voice mail says “Diane Hance” not Schuler even though the phone was registered under the name Diane Schuler and they were married for 6 or 7 years (according to the New York Magazine article, Danny didn’t even know how long they were married).
From this, a picture emerges that Danny went there on early Thursday, had a nice relaxing time by himself, while Diane had to work Thursday and Friday, then get her kids ready and packed up, drive to Floral Park, pick up the other kids, drive to the campground and take care of everyone. Even her brother and sister-in-law were having a weekend to themselves, but she was stuck with all 5 kids and a clueless husband.
They drank Friday night at the campground he says. Then Saturday Danny says they went to bed at 11:30 and he got up at 5. So, likely Danny crashes out, Diane has insomnia (as her family has stated she suffered from and smoked pot to fall asleep), so she stays up drinking and smoking all night. He gets up at 5 and goes fishing, leaving her to wake up the kids, pack up and get all the kids in the car to take them out for breakfast and then drive them home, drop off the kids in Floral Park then drive out to Suffolk while Danny and the dog went off in the pickup truck merrily oblivious. They supposedly leave together, but he doesn’t stop at the McDonald’s with her to help with the kids or anything, he keeps going, he doesn’t follow her, or take his son, or any of the kids. She then has to stop for gas too where she is probably looking for Tylenol since she is hung over. But her sister in law said she didn’t believe in medicine, so why was she looking for Tylenol?
In the police report, the brother then says this was the first season they camped at that campsite, so how does the owner say she knows them for years? And Danny says they have been going there for years. The brother is very vague with the times the kids called (‘sometime in the late morning”). Wouldn’t it have been tormenting enough so he would have looked at those call times over and over trying to figure it all out minute by minute? He and his wife had to know what was up, they both talked to a trashed Diane Schuler and had to know she was wasted. The kids were crying in the background. In the police report Danny says the brother called him and said there was an accident, but the police tapes have Warren talking to Danny before the crash trying to get information on the phone bill..etc. so they could track her.
On page 10 of the police report, a witness describes traveling north on the Taconic at 1:15 pm and being cut off by the minivan ALSO TRAVELING NORTH getting on the Taconic from the Saw Mill Parkway. This is right where the crash happened, about 200 yards north of the Saw Mill/Taconic merge. This means she went up the Taconic past the crash site, then turned around and got back on the same exit ramp in the wrong direction. She scouted the route! Probably saw a perfect spot to end it all and headed back down the road heading south knowing what was going to happen and where, there is a blind curve with a hill right at the crash site, no chance for the unwitting accessory to the crime to react evasively. There are two (2) turnarounds in that stretch of road, plus a lot of wide grass median and shoulder to change your mind if you wanted to.
Also, the husbands story about the vodka being his is total BS. He drinks beer, very few men drink vodka as their drink of choice, especially when they are beer drinkers. Vodka is a chick drink. And if it takes you 9 months to drink 1.75 liters of vodka, why are you carrying it around, why is it that important? The story about the vodka bottle is an example of the deep denial. That bottle costs 25 dollars, how frugal are they that they claim they carried the same bottle for a year? Sorry, but if you have a couple of drinks a week, that bottle is going to last 2 months tops. And who is going to go camping for the weekend and have one tiny little drink, then bring it home? So, that means they drink it at home too, so how could it last that long? Just doesn’t make sense. If the vodka meant that little to them why carry it around? They guy was sort of a cop, doesn’t he know it’s illegal to carry open containers? Oh, right, he said he didn’t pack it, so she did, without his knowledge.
A quote from the Steve Fishman article in New York Magazine (click here to view the entire article):
I want to know if Danny feels guilty in some general way, for inattention or absence or anything. “Absolutely not,” Danny says.
Wow. How can someone have no feelings of guilt at all? It is incomprehensible. Not even guilty for not following her down the road? For not calling her when she didn’t show up? He was home before they even crashed. I can’t possibly imagine not second-guessing every minute of that day and being overcome with guilt? Come on, guilt is one of the most basic human emotions there is, even when you have no control over a situation it is there. Is it possible this man has no emotions whatsoever? All he has lamented over is the loss of his wife and child, he never even mentions the 3 relatives, or 3 strangers that lost their lives.
The Fishman story told how Diane cut her mother out of her life completely since the age of 9, pretending she did not exist due to her choice to leave the family, even though the other siblings and her father did not shut her out and her mother has said she reached out to her for a relationship, stating it was Diane’s choice to keep her away. That is a huge thing to hold inside for 27 years. I do think this is the elemental key to the whole story.
The public photos released of her wedding are telling, how could she, or anyone there, not be thinking about her mother, who was not invited. How do you go through your wedding day holding that inside? Since it was her wedding day, everyone else had to suck it up and it was all about her and not mentioning the obvious absence of the mother, the rest of the family would have invited her to such an event. So she is controlling the social situation completely, holding everyone hostage to her demons. Then having children and depriving them of their grandmother, and vice-versa.
This pattern of controlling social situations and punishing people who love you most due to perceived transgressions only makes me believe the murder/suicide theory more. Did she punish her husband and brother for something we will never know about? I am on the side of the victims who feel there is much more to the story. On the one hand they say she is frugal, that’s why they carried the same bottle of vodka around for almost a year.
The NY Magazine article says she was compulsive shopper however, buying a $300 purse for her sister in law on the spur of the moment, going out for milk and coming back with a Jeep, or grocery shopping and coming home with a plasma TV. This sounds like someone with an impulse problem to me, not a frugal one. There is much more in that story and I recommend it for background as it is the only source of information on the dynamics of these peoples lives.
So what caused the rage that led to this act? There was a 17-second call dialed from Diane’s phone to a guy in Oyster Bay, only 10 minutes from where she works, that morning. I won’t put his name here, but it is in the press where he was interviewed after the police talked to him. All he said to the press was that it was “weird”. Interestingly his last name is one letter off from her brother’s last name. How coincidental that a random wrong number would go so close to home. Since it was one of the kids making the calls, maybe they accidentally dialed a contact or recent call? I mean who actually dials numbers on their cell phone, especially when you have called that person at least 3 times in the past 2 hours. You just go to the contact or the recent calls. So that number had to be in the phone.
The precipitating event is still a mystery, but there are many clues. Something came out in those phone calls that sealed everyones fate. Did the kids overhear something she couldn’t let them reveal? Did she decide to punish her husband and brother for something, like finding out some secret? For challenging her for her behavior? For giving her an ultimatum?
In conclusion, since there are really no plausible medical conditions that make you randomly drive on the wrong side of the road, disputing the intoxication option leaves only premeditated murder suicide. So which is it? They can’t have it both ways. The truth must be revealed or we all must live with the fear that this could happen to any one of us for no reason? The victims deserve the truth and the secrets Diane kept can’t be kept or we are all enabling her, even in death.
The Photographs Are, From Top to Bottom:
01. Diane Schuler
02. Accident Scene
03. Accident Scene
04. The Hance Family – The children are, from left to right, Alyson Hance, 7, Katie Hance, 5, and Emma Hance, 9. All three girls died in the crash.
05. Guy Bastardi, 49. Victim.
06. Tom Ruskin, private eye and convicted felon.
07. Michael Bastardi, 81. Victim
08. Daniel Longo, 74. Victim.
09. Map of the crash scene
10. The Schuler Family. The children are Bryan, 5 at the time of the crash, who survived, and Erin, 2, who did not.
11. An unidentified 11-year-old girl at the funeral of the three Hance sisters. This picture broke my heart.
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