Monday, February 06, 2017

Absolut Taconic

Not sure how I missed this 2011 documentary -- "There's Something Wrong With Aunt Diane" -- about the infamous case of Diane Schuler, who drove a minivan full of children the wrong way on the Taconic State Parkway that caused the deadliest accident in Westchester County, N.Y., in 80 years. An autopsy showed she was had a blood-alcohol content of 0.19 -- the equivalent of 10 shots, more than twice the legal limit -- as well as having high levels of THC in her system. (The medical examiner concluded she could have smoked marijuana as recently as 15 minutes before the fatal  accident.) Her family thought the findings had to be a mistake -- she, her husband, their two children and three of their nieces were driving back from a weekend camping trip early in the morning, and Schuler's husband said there was no way she would have been drinking or smoking pot -- so set out to clear her name. The documentary was filmed contemporaneously with these efforts and what the likely truth was became abundantly clear to Damian and me while watching it, yet her family still seems completely dumbfounded. Won't spoil -- leave a comment if you've seen or also reached a pretty reasonable conclusion. 

Info HERE.


Steve said...

I have not seen the doc yet, but have read several articles about this horrible incident. I still find it difficult to understand how the family can deny the facts. They want to blame everyone but the person at fault.

Steven Baker said...

I watched it a few nights ago. I had heard about/followed the case a bit. It's just tragically sad all around. What I found most sad was the family's absolute refusal of the evidence of alcohol and THC. Their "grasping at straws" stroke defense just became overwhelmingly sad, even after they admitted she smoked marijuana and there was an empty vodka bottle in the car. They just refused to accept the fact that she may have been at fault.

Rusty said...

I reached the same conclusion that the psychologists and forensic experts did about 45 minutes before the end. My brother-in-law has an identical personality as Daniel Schuler-- he's black-and-white to a fault and refuses to accept any reality beyond what he's instantaneously concluded for himself. My suspicion is that he's going to beat the proverbial dead horse until he's systematically alienated every single person out of his life.

SPOILERS: I think she suffered from an irrational need for control based on her mother's abandonment, coupled with a damaged self esteem due to issues with weight control. She was excessively structured, and medicated herself to sleep every night with marijuana so she could squeeze a few more minutes of productivity in each day to make up for the complete lack of contribution from her husband (who she probably married because she thought he was as good as she was going to get). She probably couldn't sit still long enough to have her dental issues addressed, or possibly didn't like the dentist and wrote the whole thing off mid-procedure. An abscess is horrendously painful. It probably drove her to take a pull on the vodka bottle, then obsessively chug it in desperation to relieve her pain.

It was very tragic. She had so many opportunities during the trip to stop and call someone to pick them up because she couldn't concentrate on driving. They weren't that far from home.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...


@Rusty: That's EXACTLY what we thought. The family just couldn't get past the idea of whether this made her being a "good" or "bad" person. (It was neither.) She obviously was treating the tooth and horribly misjudged the vodka.

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