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tv   CNN Presents  CNN  April 14, 2013 11:00pm-12:00am PDT

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danny, which is her husband's name. he knew something was wrong. the kids were crying in the background. he told his sister to stay put, that he'd be right up there. >> when there is an incoherent phone call with her brother, her oldest niece is apparently on the phone to her parents saying there's something wrong with aunt diane. >> they're say aunt diane can't see. aunt diane can't -- something is wrong with aunt diane. they were pulled over at that point, and emma told her dad where they were. read me a sign, and she said tarrytown. >> warren races up from where he is in long island to the tappen zee bridge to try and find diane.
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she leaves her phone on the jersey barrier, the divider at the tappen zee bridge. >> the phone was located on the tappen zee pull-off on the right. someone had found her cell phone sitting on a guide rail. her entire route up until the bridge is consistent with what she normally would have been done. then it's unclear where she got on the highway and where she went. >> are you all right? >> no. quite frankly.
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>> well, thanks for doing this. >> um. >> was she your closest friend? >> i would say, yeah. she was. and we we were not kind of very similar in a lot of ways. i'm an easygoing person, let a lot of things pass. she had to be in charge of everything. there was nothing left to chance. you know, everything had to be planned and precise. she's certainly not a perfect person. you know, she loved you. she loved you. if she didn't like you, she could be difficult, you know. she didn't let anything go, you know. she, you know, somebody was rude or -- she would call them out right there. you know, she was okay as long as she was in control of everything. >> reporter: did you guys ever have conversation about any kind of pain she was having?
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>> um, you know -- i know she did have issues with, um, like especially that week, every time i would see her, she would be holding her jaw, moving her mouth around, moving her lower jaw. knowing her and knowing what kind of person she was every day of her life and how she conducted herself, as crazy as it sounds, people grasping for, you know, reasons, it seems more plausible to anybody who knows her that something medical could have happened to her. >> did shy seem at all upset that week? >> no, not at all, and diane was not the type of person to ever hide her feelings. if she was upset with you, you knew she was upset. you know, she wasn't the time of person that would smile and just pretend. if something was wrong, she would have said something was wrong. >> did she talk about her marriage with you? >> not really about her marriage. you know, i know to me she just
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appeared very content, you know, very happy with the way her life was. you know, never heard her -- she wouldn't discuss her marriage, no. >> when was the last time you had spoken with her? >> about ten years. >> ten years? >> um-hmm. what happened you with guys that you didn't all that time that you didn't speak? how did that work out? >> you know, danny just likes to be danny, and they like to do their own thing. we never got into a fight. there was never an argument, never a reason why we stopped talking. it just stopped. that was it. there was no rhyme or reason why it ended. >> i was the actually the only one invited to the wedding. i did not go by choice, because diane and i didn't have as close a bond as we had, and it was upsetting. i had my first child already,
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and, you know, like diane wasn't there for that, which was weird. so -- excuse me. so i think for me, like i couldn't take part of -- this part of her life without the connection we had so -- ♪ ♪
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>> see if we can match the dna to my wife. >> and if that dna does match the sample, what will come next? >> the medical part, right? that's what i'm waiting for, the medical part of it. >> yeah, this is '05, four years before. grinding teeth, sensitivity to cold, loose teeth, broken
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fillings, and tooth pain, endured pin. does that say abscess? maybe that was the same tooth that was bothering her afterwards. you know, it's so funny, she would never even tell people she was going to the dentist. >> it's not like people to know that she was suffering. >> no, never. she's like i'm fine, i'm fine, i'm fine. >> diane was a very private person. people who knew her said to me over and over again, that diane didn't talk about personal matters. she never articulated feelings about anybody. >> hi, this is liz garvis calling again. >> her mom was like a non-issue. i don't think that she really wanted to interact with her. she talked about a dad.
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she adored her dad. >> do we know why her mom left her, left the house, her dad? >> i did. >> you don't want to talk about her mom? >> no. i'm sorry. >> i don't even know 100% the background of the divorce. i just know everybody -- they were all very angry. >> the mother left with the next-door neighbor. >> i think it was like a family friend. >> you know, she never complained about it. she never talked about it. it was as if like -- almost like she wasn't even there. >> one time i talked to diane's mother, and she said i'm not the bad person. whatever that meant, i don't know, so i told that to diane when i came home. she didn't want no part of it. >> diane's mother reached out time and again trying to reconcile, trying to develop a
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relationship with diane, and dine has brothers, and diane's mother had a relationship with her sons, diane's brothers. so it was really uniquely diane who held some kind of unarticulated grudge against her mother. >> parents get divorced, but it's very rare that a 9-year-old daughter would not go with her mother in a divorce at that particular point in time. so diane herself needed to use some denial to go ahead and survive the trial of being abandoned by her mother at the age of 9. of course, it's very painful for a 9-year-old. i think she had that vulnerability about her. >> this is sergeant temple. >> my name is brad. i'm actually trying to help a friend right now. they're on their way home from a
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connecting trip with their aunt. they just called my friend, saying that the aunt is driving erratically, that they are at a rest center. the best thing they can understand is that they are in tarrytown and those are the signs that they saw. >> okay. >> the aunt isn't picking up the cell phone right now. >> do you know what kind of car they're in? >> yeah, they are in a minivan, red, with a ski rack on it. jackie is flipping out. she can't remember the license plate number. >> just based on what miss jackie had told me, that this was out of character for her sister-in-law not to answer the phone, and also the fact that one of the children had mention that had her aunt wasn't feeling well. i asked mrs. hance if diane schuler had any history of medical problems. i think i even asked her, you know, if she had any history of drug abuse. again, these are questions that i would ask anybody, and she said, no, so at that point i kind of treated it as an overdue moist/possible medical emergency, but at that point we
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were just checking to see if we could locate the van. >> there's a number of ways that she can get to the entrance to the taconic. she could have gone up 9a and gone across or gone up the taconic and simply made a u-turn, so how she got to that exit ramp, we don't know. >> state police, sergeant temple. >> listen, i have a family here that thinks that they might have a medical emergency of their sister, and she's got five kids in the car. >> okay. do you know if there's any way that we can track her cell phone to get a location if i give you her number? >> we can try it. >> the last name? >> s-c-h-u-l-e-r. >> on her bill it says hance. >> the phone bill is either schuler or --
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>> he's talking on the phone. >> does the bill come in your name or schuler? >> are you with me? aaah! aaaaah! theres a guy on the window! do something, dad! aaaah! aaaah! what is happening? they're rate suckers. their bad driving makes car insurance more expensive for the rest of us. good thing there's snapshot from progressive. snap it in and get a discount based on your good driving. stop paying for rate suckers. try snapshot free at i'm up next, but now i'm singing the heartburn blues. hold on, prilosec isn't for fast relief. cue up alka-seltzer. it stops heartburn fast. ♪ oh what a relief it is! cue up alka-seltzer. it stops heartburn fast. welcnew york state,
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♪ i got a phone call from my brother-in-law, diane's brother. then i got my keys and my brother, and we went upstate. >> he asked me if i would take a ride with him, see if they could find diane. >> i was at work. when i heard jimmy call and say danny's coming over, he needs me and we are going to find diane. at that point we just thought she wasn't feeling well.
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>> you don't want to touch that. this is an area where we set up our alcohol levels for whatever sample we're testing, so it's blood, urine, brain. >> is this where diane schuler's blood-alcohol was tested? >> yes. when we talk about the effect first of alcohol, the frontal lobe of your brain starts to be affected around .010 .10%. diane shuler had over ten drinks in her at the time she died. her blood alcohol was 0.19%, and the vitreous humor was 0.23, and gastric contents were 0.25% alcohol levels. >> i'm a psychiatrist, trained in general psychiatry and then did additional training in drugs and alcohol. once you start getting over 0.2, then you start getting into
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alcohol toxicity. that's the level where people are needing to show up in the e.r., becoming unconscious, having blackouts, and even going into coma. >> with the marijuana on board, one and one don't equal two anymore. they potentate each other, so then she has the effect of the marijuana as well as the effect of the alcohol. >> alcohol may increase the absorption of the marijuana, so that people who drink first may experience stronger effects, so if she wasn't accustomed to drinking and smoking at the same time, the marijuana affected her so much more than she had anticipated. and marijuana being a hallucinogen your cognitive function can deteriorate pretty rapidly. >> the thc, which is the active ingredient in marijuana, her
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level was 113 nanograms per mil, it was very high. so we were able to tell based on research she could have smoked anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour before she had this accident. marijuana is our number one drug of choice after alcohol or with alcohol. in factor fact, it's outpacing alcohol as being found in drunk drivers, throughout the nation, not just here. >> one thing that they mention in these things about the pot, what do you make of that? >> not true at all. not true at all. on a rare occasion she would, but definitely not that weekend. absolutely not. >> was it something she used to relax? something she used for stress or something she used for fun? >> on occasion, on occasion to relax. that's all not true. everything in here is not true. >> when did she use marijuana? did she use it when she was at work? >> no, no, i think it was mostly to be able to get a good night's sleep. i think after everything was down, clothes are ironed, kids
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are in bed, books are read, everything was done, and she would have some before she went to sleep. it wasn't like you would -- you would never look at her and think she smoked pot, but some people do. >> did she ever discuss it with you, like why she took it or just -- >> no, i just knew that she smoked. >> the question is, why did she need to use marijuana to help her relax? help her go to sleep? what was so painful for her? there was something in her life that was not controllable basically from the age of 9 on. if you cannot control what happened at the time that it happened, they themselves hyper responsible, tightly wound, and she was okay as long as she was in control. >> having an history of an early loss or trauma definitely predisposes one toward both mood disorders and addictive disorders. so statistically, she's at risk.
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the witnesses i interviewed had encountered diane schuler's vehicle just prior to the accident. they were getting off pleasantville road exit, and they observed her coming at them the wrong way coming down the exit ramp of the taconic. >> it was literally as if we weren't even on the road. she's coming toward us, you know, i'm blinking my lights, beeping the horn, she's flailing. we drove up on the grass. because otherwise we would have been hit. she never put on a brake, she
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never even -- her eyes didn't even move. >> it's just i'm going where i want to go, i'm doing what i need to do, i'm where i want to be. >> and then she went around the bend on to the highway itself. >> we know that diane schuler enters the taconic state parkway going south in the northbound lane approximately 1.7 miles north of the point of impact. she drives this 1.7 miles at a high rate of speed, and you have half a dozen callers to 911. >> state police, 911. >> state police, you've been northbound taconic, there's a minivan in the right lane going southbound. >> 911. >> hi, i'm on the taconic expressway, just passed exit 100-c. there's a car going like 70 miles an hour in the wrong direction. >> it was very surreal seeing it coming at you so what you had to do, thank god nobody was on the side. i was able to go over a couple
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of lanes as the van came by me and i said at the time 70 miles an hour. dead pin straight, it wasn't doing this. dead pin straight. right after it happened, that's when i called 911. >> yeah, i've got a guy driving south on the northbound taconic parkway. i was in the left lane. he's going like a bat out of hell, should already be on the parkway right now. it's a minivan. >>ed 11. state police, where's your emergency? >> i'm on the taconic -- hang on. >> the van that's going southbound? yeah, they're going out for it. >> yeah, i just remember saying oh, my god, oh, my god, i was just trying to draw attention to get validation from rich that maybe something peculiar was there on the road. >> my heart was going about 200 beats a minute and just to react quickly and get out of the way and then the car went past us. >> it was just like playing chicken.
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she was going straight on the road. we saw something coming at us. we reacted, we moved. she had no reaction at all. she didn't stop, didn't slow down, didn't move. i thought it was someone dead-set on killing themselves. your home and auto insurance together. i'll just press this, and you'll save on both. [bell dings] ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, llllet's get ready to bundlllllle... [ holding final syllable ] oh, yeah, sorry! let's get ready to bundle and save. now, that's progressive. oh, i think i broke my spleen! to prove to you that aleve is the better choice for him, he's agreed to give it up. that's today? [ male announcer ] we'll be with him all day as he goes back to taking tylenol. i was okay, but after lunch my knee started to hurt again.
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good afternoon. >> hi, doctor. >> i don't know if i can get up, because i'm all wired. >> very nice to meet you. >> how are you? >> nice to meet you. >> thank you for making the trip. we appreciate it. >> uh, okay. the autopsy report includes chemical analysis, toxicology, and i reviewed some witness statements and police
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statements, and i gained the impression that the autopsy was done properly and was done well. so is there anything that would, based on the autopsy, account for this crash? alcohol and marijuana actually would. >> we obviously don't know much about this, but she would not do this. there is something wrong with this picture, and i don't want her being a poster child for drowning moms, because she would never tell me she does is it. you tell me my sister who passed away? yes, she probably was drinking 100%, but this wasn't diane. this wasn't his wife. she would be the one to yell at us our kick or butts. >> what are we going to do?
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>> i just feel, which is me being my strong opinion, is as soon as they saw alcohol, it was all stopped. okay, she was drunk, she was high, that's it, categorizes that, drunk mom driving five kids in the car. >> what about the abscessed tooth. >> the which? >> abscessed tooth. >> could that cause a stroke? >> could that cause a stroke? >> yeah. >> in theory, yes, but based on the autopsy, there is none that i saw on microscopy. a stroke is something like this, and it does cause alcohol -- >> but could that reading be a mistake due to other medical conditions that people don't know that she had? >> it could, but the question of the alcohol will always prevail. >> so say we exhumed the body, and there's a really bad abscessed tooth, there's x-rays from years ago. >> but the question will still prevail how could it have caused
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alcohol in the vitreous. >> maybe she had a stroke and maybe by mistake thought it was weather and drank it. >> we want to know physically happened, if she did have alcohol in her, did she top and be incoherent and do something that happened to her? we're even willing to say that, but there's no way if she was in the right state of mind she would go and take that bottle. you tell me she was having a stroke or hallucinating, this or that due to an abscess, we're going to have to live with that. >> if she does are an abscess, she could have had such pain and takes whatever is available to alleviate the pain. >> no, i don't think so. >> she wouldn't do it to ease the pain, either thinking it's not water. >> she's not thinking clearly because she had a tooth abscess. >> okay. that's what i'm thinking. >> okay. so if she had a tooth abscess, what you could do is say to
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yourself she had severe pain, and she had to alleviate that pain now, not in an hour, now. >> so she drank 1.9. >> in 45 minutes? >> you know -- >> someone who drank once a month maybe? >> look, it really doesn't make sense my trying to convince you. you have to have your satisfaction, your satisfaction is only if you're going -- is only going to be achieved if you send it to another laboratory to redo it. >> so that would be the next step? >> that's the only way i know what to tell you. >> and then also with exhuming, that's the way to go? >> yeah. >> it's very frustrating. people have promised us the world that they were going to find out, get to the bottom of it, retest and everything, and do that, and it's been a year and three months. >> when you say people you mean -- mean -- >> our investigator was supposed
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to get the samples and send them to another lab to check dna. >> and he didn't do it? >> we don't know. that's what we've been asking for. right? >> yeah. >> we do appreciate you looking at everything and doing this. >> thank you so much. >> you're welcome. i sincerely hope that you find peace with this. >> it's 5:00. i need like 100 cigarettes. ♪ >> so? why are you looking at me like that? you don't feel encouraged?
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>> did you? >> i'm encouraged enough that he's willing to retest it. ♪ ♪ >> yeah, i was a little surprised at how they're very -- a little surprised that he doesn't think there was an error. hopefully, we'll be pleasantly surprised. no one in my family knows i
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smoke. i need terese, please? >> sure. >> thank you. >> terese, come in, please. >> i had a conversation with the lab, and they indicated to me that tom ruskin had sent them the samples and that they had given tom ruskin results but they couldn't give me any information because they had all belonged to tom ruskin, and we would have to go -- >> did we call? >> to tom? >> yes. >> that's when we placed all those phone calls. >> did he ever send me any samples, letters, anything? >> no, we never heard from him
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about any of that. >> the biggest problem i have in this case is what happened with the investigator. that's something i have to live with. >> so danny couldn't call the lab, even though he retained tom? >> that seems crazy, but that appears to be the case. >> i can't pick up your call right now, so please at the tone leave a message, and i'll call you back as quickly as i can. >> hi, tom. it's jane schuler. long time no talk. i really, really, need to talk to you, and i really need you to call me back. thanks, bye. >> there's just so much pushing i can do. she's taking care of my son and working, there's just so much i can do, you know?
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it's getting old fast. >> what's getting old? >> everything. >> he has different views, and it's black and white with him, very black and white. he has completely different views about things. you know, he's -- i don't get it. i know it sounds stupid. he's off all day. you're off all day, you don't -- no offense, you don't even see bryan, you take him to school, see him for five minutes and then go. i'm working 14 hours, and then get over there. i don't understand what you're doing to me. why are you getting crazy? you're off all day. i told him, you're going to go back and work during the day and find out what a real working parent feels lying, and i said you have it made right now because he's driving -- everyone is like ready to put their foot down about it. ♪
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he doesn't realize how he comes off sometimes, like, he'll be like, bryan is looking at something and he's like, clean it up, come on, let's go. and bryan is looking at a picture of mom and erin, yeah, yeah, you're right, i mess them, too, blah, blah, blah. you don't notice how you sound. that's right, bryan, i know you miss them. he has to know, this is the way life is now. it's like, okay, but he can cry. you can cry. we can all cry. what is that going to do? well, we'll be sad. the only positive thing is we've got bryan in therapy. bryan had a very bad meltdown last month, extremely bad, about mommy. he doesn't want to hear it, danny, but i spoke to a pediatrician, and the pediatrician told him you have
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to get him enrolled. we have an appointment tomorrow at 10:30. ♪ i told him, he has to work on forgiving diane, because he does not forgive her right not at all for what's happened. the way he doesn't forgive her is he never wanted kids and this is where i'm left now, and she was supposed to do all this. i said, okay, it's okay to be pissed at her, you know, that's okay. but you have to work through it, and he's like what's there to work through? this is my life. this is it. some of the people in the cars got involved and actively
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aaah! aaaaah! theres a guy on the window! do something, dad! aaaah! aaaah! what is happening? they're rate suckers. their bad driving makes car insurance more expensive for the rest of us. good thing there's snapshot from progressive. snap it in and get a discount based on your good driving. stop paying for rate suckers. try snapshot free at welcnew york state, where cutting taxes for families and businesses is our business.
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we've reduced taxes and lowered costs to save businesses more than two billion dollars to grow jobs, cut middle class income taxes to the lowest rate in sixty years, and we're creating tax free zones for business startups. the new new york is working creating tens of thousands of new businesses, and we're just getting started. to grow or start your business visit
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♪ there will never be a concrete answer with absolute certainty which can be given to what happened, but there's several plausible hypotheses. is it possible that that day in question she was in so much pain she went to analgesics, gel caps? when there was none available, could she have anesthetized her physical pain by taking just one drink so that she could relax enough to drive and then she lost control and she lost perspective as to how much she was drinking? that kind of slippery slope does
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occur. people who have a deep pain sensitivity, who cannot stand feeling helpless and feel they need to be perfect, and she has had reasons in her life for all three. >> did she consume an initial small amount in her right mind, not impaired? did she think because the kids were there, did she think she had to get in a lot quickly and misjudged? and, in fact, shot her blood-alcohol concentration you have much higher than she would and then something happened that she then consumed in a way that was very dangerous and unlike her, something beyond intoxication. did she have an infection going on? did she have a fever? that combined with the marijuana and alcohol could certainly
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precipitate a delirium. a brain event that triggered where she was beyond poor judgment, she was not in her right mind, that we don't know what she was thinking, hearing, feeling. >> hi. tom, i do appreciate you calling me back. >> i'll always call you back. >> yeah, no, i'm just -- you know what, tom? i'm just so upset, because i don't know what happened. >> with what? >> all i know is when i spoke to terese, she said we needed you to get an approval to say that you can release some things. >> let's put it this way, all right? as i promised danny, we retested the beginning of last year, and i devoted my time, because there
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was no additional monies, but i sent the results to them. >> to dominick? >> i never even heard back. and i called danny, you. >> i was told not to pick up, because at this point they didn't feel -- they didn't believe that you were doing anything. >> so whenever that was, i was trying to give you the results of the test. >> i don't know what to do anymore. >> well, we retested the samples, and it came back the same. the toxicology and the autopsy was correct. >> but can't you see how confused i am now? >> we'll never know if diane purposely did this. we'll never know. >> tom, you know, i'm spinning around in circles. >> i can understand. >> i have one person saying one thing, another person saying another thing, and then i do believe diane wasn't drinking,
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and all i want to do is prove if there was alcohol, what happened to her. >> all i can tell you is all tests were consistent as if diane had drank and been high that day. >> it's just overwhelming. >> so you tell me -- listen, i've always been straight with you. if you believe me or not, i can't help that. >> that's the thing, i've always believed you. >> i will tell you one thing further, the dna was hers. >> so what am i supposed to do now, tom? >> you tell me. i mean, i'm returning your call. >> i don't know. >> state police, 911. ness. >> oh, my god.
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there's been an accident. >> what mile marker are you at? >> what mike marker are we on? >> pleasant road. >> hold on, stop yelling. >> 911. >> listen -- >> are you out at the scene right now? >> yes. i'm at the scene. >> are there any injuries? >> no, we have fatalities. >> fatality at the scene. stay on the phone with me, let me give you ems. hold on. >> okay. send an ambulance. we have a possible car fire. the car may blow up as well. >> so a car fire and fatality? >> yes, numerous fatalities? >> numerous fatalities? >> 4.1 northbound taconic. >> diane schuler drives against traffic for 1.7 miles in the fast lane, never veers, seems to
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have a serene, almost oblivious look on her face. and kills eight people, the worst accident in recent memory. >> diane schuler hits the vehicle, which then crashes into vehicle number three, and the schuler vehicle goes off the road, down the hill, rotating, and eventually begins to burn. >> a lady was screaming? spanish, there were kids in the car. i went down the hill with this other fella. we were trying to get the door off. the door wouldn't open. we couldn't get the slider door. we were looking for the driver, we couldn't find her. the car was fully engulfed in the front. ♪
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>> we're the first ones there, and we just kind of circled the car, checking the doors. he checked the other side, i checked the driver's side, it was locked. i went around, ended up breaking the passenger side window to unlock the door. >> we finally got the door open. the guy i was with, he opened the door, and her body fell on top of our legs. >> when she fell out, she like rolled into the two of us that were standing there. literally i had to step over her to reach in for the kids. we were just concentrating on getting the kids out of the burning car. they were piled on top of each
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other. one of the fellas handed meet girl, i laid her down on the grass, put my head on her chest, i talked to her, prayed for her, please, jesus, help me wake up, please make her wake up. she wouldn't wake up. >> at 1:30 p.m. i got a phone call from the traffic management center. traffic was completely stopped. i had to drive on the shoulder of the road to get there. >> man. >> when i got there to the scene, i saw a minivan, which was burnt in the median down a hill. i also saw two suvs northbound on the taconic state parkway.
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these vehicles had extensive damage to them. >> some of the people in the cars got involved and actively tried to help. some were on the phones with 911, and some were just screaming. the scene was very chaotic. >> i proceeded to look for any other signs of life from the others, the victims, and i immediately noticed a little boy. he was hurt, hurt pretty badly. he was combative, he was crying, which is a good sign. that's why i immediately put him in the first ambulance. >> i didn't even know he was there. but he was underneath everybody.
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thank god he was underneath. then i went to the top of the hill. i lost it. i started crying. i tried to go help the other fellows that were in the car crash. and they were dead. i felt all their pulses. they were dead. one fellow was hanging out of the car. >> there were some people that did attempt to take pictures of the victims, which we wouldn't allow. we put sheets up to preserve their dignity. it was the only thing we could have done at that point. there was no one more to help. ♪
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jackie sent this card. it says hi, evan. i miss seeing you, bryan, your mom and your whole family. it says warren andry broken, but you need to go and have a happy life. by doing this, you will show bryan that he can do the same. my life ended july 26th, 2009, for whatever reason, my purpose for living was taken. when you have children one day, you will understand you live and
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breathe for your kids. warren is having a hard time. all the women in his life have left him, and he won't let me out of his sight. i pray our pain ends soon, and can i see my girls. give bryan a hug and a kiss, and know that you are a great person with a lot to give. love, jackie. >> whatever happened in this tragedy, there was no evidence that diane schuler was a bad person. what evidence we have is that she was a very good mom, and a very good person generally, maybe a bit too good, a bit of a perfectionist. i don't see any evidence that what she did was intentional. given the fact she was generally someone with very high standards
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for herself, was someone very socially connected, a good protector factors, so even if she found out some horrible news, i don't see it likely she would kill herself, especially not in the manner that this tragedy occurred. it's hard to imagine, isn't it, that simple coincidences can be a major tipping point and can result in a major catastrophe. it's not something we are built as human beings to be able to live with. >> don't worry, diane. i promised you i would take care of bryan. ♪
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