“There’s something wrong with Aunt Diane.”
A simple sentence uttered by a scared young niece, talking to her dad on a cell phone. As her aunt, Diane Schuler, drove the wrong way for almost two miles into oncoming traffic on the Taconic Parkway in NY on July 26, 2009.
Aunt Diane died. Along with one of her own children, and all three of her nieces riding in the red minivan with her that day. Diane’s only son, Bryan, survived the horrific crash. Diane drove in excess of 85 MPH in the fast lane – in the wrong direction. She finally hit an SUV head on, and killed all three people inside.
There’s something wrong with Aunt Diane. Ya think?!
This past week I stumbled upon a documentary on HBO On Demand titled “There is Something Wrong With Aunt Diane.” When I read the description I was intrigued. Because I vaguely remember hearing the story of the mom driving the wrong way and killing a whole bunch of people. If there is one thing to know about me, it’s that I LOVE true crime/mystery shows like 48 Hours Mystery and Dateline. Everytime I watch a new one, I like to unravel the clues as to how and why. I am both shocked and, yet, not really all that surprised at how evil and bad human beings can be. But Aunt Diane, was she bad? Was she evil? What the hell happened?
I guess the other thing you should know about me is that I, too, am an aunt. And I love my niece and nephew more than life itself. I would never do anything to harm them or put them in harm’s way. I say this because as the autopsy showed us a couple of weeks later, Aunt Diane was drunk – double the legal limit (they say she drank enough vodka for ten drinks, and there was even some still in her stomach, undigested) AND stoned. They concluded by the tests done that she had smoked only 15-30 minutes prior to the crash.
I would do neither one of those things. While driving with the kids in the car? C’mon. No friggin’ way. So what was Diane Schuler thinking.
Before I go on, I’m going to throw in a timeline so you can get a sense of what went down and when. If at any point you are intrigued, then please Google Diane Schuler and read the dozens of stories written over the past two years. And the hundreds, if not thousands, of comments written about this topic. She is vilified. She is called terrible names. She is called an alcoholic. Someone who will burn in hell. Will she? I dunno. But let’s think about what happened.
What I write now, is a combination of what I saw in the documentary and of the dozens of articles I have read since viewing said documentary. I literally cannot get enough of this story and find it to be a complete mystery. What we do know is that Diane drove the wrong way, shit faced and stoned, and murdered a whole bunch of people. Including family members which I ASSUME meant a lot to her. I can only assume that. But why did she drink? Why did she smoke? Why did she drive the wrong way? These are all questions that don’t have easy answers.
Diane and her husband Daniel went camping with their two children, and three of Diane’s nieces. Apparently Diane’s brother and sister-in-law liked them enough to let their kids go camping with them. And even liked them enough to lend their own minivan to haul all those kids around.
Question: If Diane’s brother or sister-in-law ever suspected her to be an alcoholic, would they have a) lent her the van and b) drive the kids around while possibly drinking? My answer: doubtful.
At no point did anyone in the documentary ever say “Yes I worked with Diane and she sometimes smelled like booze.” At no point has anyone come forward since the accident and say “I saw Mrs. Schuler buy liquor every week in the liquor store I work at.” At no point has ANY family member, including the parents of the deceased children, say “You know, I sort of suspected that Diane had a drinking problem.” No in fact, everyone has said NICE things about her. She had a decent job, paid a salary twice that of her husband’s. Everyone said that her kids were always ironed and clean. Nothing disheveled or problematic. Yeah I know, alcoholics have a good way of hiding it. But seriously…not ONE person suspected anything and came out saying so in the last two years? Unfathomable.
Okay so camping is done. Kids climb into minivan with Diane. Daniel takes the dog in the pickup truck. They separately head home.
At no point during her four-hour odyssey home (which shouldnt have taken that long BTW) did she pick up her cell phone and call her husband.
I find that strange.
As far as Daniel is concerned his wife was perfect and they never had any problems in their marriage. He is giving NO clues into this mystery whatsoever. Personally, I do think they had a fight at some point during the trip. Possibly that morning. Was he cheating? Was he just a deadbeat or did nothing? Unknown. But she never called him once. Not to say “I don’t feel well.” Not to say “I’m running late.” Not to say “Hey did you get home okay? Was there traffic? I love you.”
The day progresses normally. They all stop at a McDonald’s for breakfast. Clerk at restaurant does not remember Diane acting strangely or drunk or erratic. Okay. Good. Kids played at the Playground there. Supposedly she had some OJ. Is that when she started drinking? Unknown.
What we do know: Daniel admits to keeping vodka at the camper which they both took back and forth on trips. Huh? Is he trying to cover up for her, because the vodka bottle was found at the scene of the crash. Oh and her blood showed ten shots of vodka in her system at the time of the crash? Transporting it is one thing. Swigging on it while driving home with five children all under the age of nine is another thing.
WHAT would make Diane start drinking and toking marijuana?
Daniel claims she had a bad tooth, an abscess, which must’ve given her so much pain that she started drinking to mask the pain. At one point (see timeline) she stops at a gas station and goes into ask the clerk working there if they have some sort of pain pills. Like Advil or Tylenol. He says no, and tells authorities later that she did not seem drunk or erratic.
Wait a second – gas station store doesn’t have packets of Advil or Tylenol?? Dont buy it. Maybe clerk doesn’t remember, but maybe she was looking to buy something else. I’ll let this one go. There is no audio and I can’t say either way what she asked for. Maybe rolling papers? Seems crazy, but this story gets crazier.
Ok, so let’s say her tooth DID hurt and she thought “Hey, a couple of sips of this Absolut will help.” I mean, I guess I’ve heard of zanier things. But really? A perfect mom, NOT that far from home, can’t tough it out?? Can’t stop at like a real market or convenience store for pain relievers? And if it is THAT bad, wouldn’t she call her husband to say “Honey, I just can’t make it. I cannot see straight and I cannot drive these kids any longer. Help.”
No calls to her husband, at all.
You know what would make me start drinking? Being depressed, hating life, just finding out my husband sucks/ was cheating/ wants to leave me / admits that he never wanted kids (which he does say during the documentary). I dunno. Maybe she just snapped.
But I honestly, in my heart of hearts, do believe that she never intended on making it home that day. I think the vodka was liquid courage. I think she needed the balls to drive into traffic. I personally believe it was a murder/suicide.
Now, I have nothing to back that up. But my biggest thing is WHY. Why did Diane start drinking A LOT. Not just a little but a lot. Why didn’t she say “Oh man, I’ve had too much. I should pull over and call my husband/brother/sister-in-law/police. For the safety of these kids that I love so much.” I mean, even if she kind of disliked her brother’s kids….HER OWN KIDS were in the van. Why would she put them at risk?
And even if Diane was a seasoned alcoholic, what made her lose control and practically drink the whole bottle of booze. AND then smoke some weed. Bad decisions? You can say that again!!
Bad unless you were preparing to kill yourself and everyone with you. To make those people pay. Pay for what? I don’t know. But I can fathom it happening.
Diane did stop at one point. She pulled over and spoke to her brother for eight minutes. I would LOVE to know what was said. There were a couple of other phone calls prior to that where the people speaking to her have since said that she was acting completely normal.
So at what point does she go off the deep end? Sometime after she pulled over. Her brother said, “I’m coming to help. Stay there.” And yet, Diane doesn’t stay there. She puts her cell phone neatly on the jersey barrier and drives away. This after TWO eye-witnesses say they saw a woman fitting her description on the side of the road heaving her brains out.
Witnesses who saw Diane Schuler driving the wrong way at ridiculous speeds on the Taconic Parkway say they saw a woman who had her hands on the wheel, her eyes were open and she was driving in a straight line. And even though people were honking their horns and swerving out of the way, at no point did she bat an eyelash. She was on a mission to keep driving in that lane no matter what.
And that’s why it seems like she meant to do it. Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense. A woman who either was or wasn’t an alcoholic decided of all days to have a bender with kids in the car? She couldn’t wait til she got home? Smoked some doobie with kids in the car? It doesn’t sound like Diane. No one has ever said she was a reckless driver who put others at risk.
Look, I don’t know what to tell you. Watch that documentary on HBO. Google Diane Schuler and her family. All sorts of insane stuff is happening now, with everyone suing each other. Oh Lordy.
Something was wrong with Aunt Diane. But we will never know what it was. She took that secret to the grave with her. I keep imaging those poor kids…crying and screaming from the back as horns raced by them in the opposite direction. So tragic.
Diane Schuler seemed like a normal woman, someone who could easily be in your family. What the hell happened?! I’m completely obsessed and I have to accept that I’ll never know or have any answers.
What I can tell you is that I would never ON PURPOSE drink that vodka and smoke that weed WHILE driving kids in the car (or at all for that matter!! I like my car and my driver’s license). They trusted her. Their families trusted her. And instead she made some odd decisions. Believe me, you’ll never see a documentary with the title “There’s something wrong with Auntie Jen.”
Ok, maybe you will. But for completely different reasons.
What do you think? As obsessed as me? Want to tell me to not waste my time thinking about it? Sound off folks!