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Driver was drunk in fatal crash

August 05, 2009|Times Wire Reports

A Long Island woman who drove the wrong way on the Taconic State Parkway, triggering a three-car crash that killed eight people, had been drinking vodka and smoking marijuana and had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit, police said.

Diane Schuler, 36, died along with her 2-year-old daughter and three nieces in her red minivan on July 26. She had more than 10 drinks of alcohol in her system and a high level of the main ingredient in marijuana, authorities said. A broken 1.75-liter bottle of Absolut vodka was found in her wrecked minivan.

The revelations from the autopsy helped explain how the woman her family called "an accomplished working mother who always put her children before any other priorities" wound up driving the wrong way for nearly two miles before slamming into an SUV and careening into another car.

Three men in the SUV also died in the accident about 35 miles northwest of New York City. Schuler's 5-year-old son survived.

Schuler's blood-alcohol level was 0.19%, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08%.

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