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Taconic crash survivor leaves hospital

November 15, 2009 7:41:42 PM PST
A 5-year-old boy who survived a wrong-way crash that killed eight people, including his mother, sister and three cousins, has been released from the hospital. It's not known if Bryan Schuler, who had been hospitalized for 15 days, was reunited with his father at their West Babylon home or was transferred to a rehabilitation facility.

A message left by The Associated Press for family attorney Dominic Barbara was not immediately returned. No one answered the door at the Schuler home.

David Billig, spokesman for Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, said Tuesday that under privacy laws, he could confirm only that the boy was no longer a patient as of late Monday. He would not describe the boy's injuries.

Police have said they hope to avoid talking to the boy. Lucian Chalfen, spokesman for Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore, said Tuesday he knew of no immediate plans to question him. State police did not return calls.

Bryan Schuler's mother, Diane, drove her minivan the wrong way and caused a three-car collision on the Taconic Parkway on July 26.

The crash killed the woman; her 2-year-old daughter, Erin; three nieces; and three men in another vehicle. An autopsy found she had been drinking and smoking marijuana, a conclusion her husband, Daniel Schuler, has disputed.

Police and prosecutors will meet next Tuesday for a review and progress report on the crash investigation, Chalfen said. He would not say whether officials will discuss the possibility of criminal charges against Daniel Schuler.

Police said last week that no criminal charges were planned.

Lawyers have said it would be difficult to prove Schuler knew his wife was intoxicated and failed to stop her when she set out for home from an upstate campground the morning of the crash.

Witnesses at the campground and a McDonald's where Diane Schuler stopped en route reported no signs of drinking.

But relatives of the three Yonkers men killed in the SUV Schuler slammed into - Daniel Longo, Michael Bastardi and Guy Bastardi - have met with prosecutors and have questioned how Schuler's family could have been oblivious to an alcohol-abuse problem. At the time of the crash, she had a blood-alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit and had high levels of the key ingredient in marijuana in her system.

Bastardi family attorney Irving Anolik said Tuesday that investigators "should explore how and where she got the marijuana."

"You can't get that in the supermarket," he said. "Whoever gave her marijuana committed a crime."

Anolik and James McCrorie, an attorney for the Floral Park family of the three young nieces who were killed - Emma, Alison and Kate Hance - said the girls' parents had offered condolences to the Bastardi and Longo families. Anolik said the grieving families might eventually meet.

Anolik also said the Yonkers families had engaged a law firm as they consider whether to file a civil suit against Daniel Schuler or others. No decision to sue has been made, he said.


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