What Happened to Aunt Diane Schuler?

October 16, 2023

On July 26, 2009, Diane Schuler drove her minivan with her daughter and three nieces home from a family camping trip in upstate New York. It was a drive she had made many times before, and it should have been routine. Instead, the 36-year-old mother of two veered off the road and into oncoming traffic, crashing her van into another car. Her son was in the back seat and survived; the others did not. It was the deadliest accident on a Westchester highway in 75 years.

In the aftermath of the crash, the media portrayed Schuler as a reckless drunk who had put her children in danger. Those who knew her vehemently disagreed, insisting that it was out of character for this dedicated wife and mother to drink so much or smoke marijuana.

The documentary opens with a look at the campsite where Schuler and her family had spent the weekend, juxtaposed with maps of the route she would have taken on her way home. Then the filmmakers present a series of interviews with those who knew her. Her husband steadfastly denied that she could have been capable of such poor decision-making, and her friends and coworkers all said that her behavior was a mystery.

But toxicology reports soon confirmed what everyone had known all along: Schuler had a blood alcohol level of 0.19, with 6 grams of undigested alcohol in her stomach that hadn’t yet absorbed into her system. And her blood also contained THC, indicating that she had recently smoked marijuana.


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