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New York Car Accident Takes Eight Lives

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Garden City, NYIt was the car accident that grabbed headlines across the US. A woman drove the wrong way on a highway, causing a car crash that took eight lives. Now, while the victims' families contemplate filing a lawsuit, there are differing versions about what exactly caused the tragedy.

Car AccidentWhat is known is this: Diane Schuler was returning home from a camping trip with her two children and three nieces in her van. She drove the wrong way on a highway for more than 1.5 miles, reportedly swerving in and out of traffic, before crashing head on into an SUV carrying three men. The only survivor of the accident was Shuler's son, Brian.

The SUV then caused a secondary collision when it crashed into another vehicle. Both people in the third vehicle survived the accident but were injured.

Reports that came out shortly after the accident, including an article at usatoday.com (July 27, 2009) noted that Schuler phoned her brother to tell him she did not feel well. Her brother told her to pull over and he would come get her, but she did not know where she was and continued driving.

According to a different usatoday.com article (August 6, 2009), toxicology tests found that Schuler's blood-alcohol level was 0.19 percent at the time of the crash, more than double the legal limit of 0.08 percent. Furthermore, those tests found that levels of THC—the active ingredient in marijuana—in her system indicated she had smoked marijuana as recently as 15 minutes before the crash. A broken bottle of vodka was reportedly found in the vehicle Schuler was driving.

However, a lawyer for Schuler's family said she believes Schuler had a stroke prior to the accident. The lawyer pointed out that Schuler was diabetic, had a painful abscess in her mouth and had a bump on her leg that may have been an embolism. Furthermore, Schuler's husband, Daniel, said he had never seen her drunk since the day he met her.

Meanwhile, the family of two of the men who died in the accident are planning on filing a lawsuit against Schuler's family, according to a Newsday report (August 5, 2009). A lawyer for the family said there was "a strong fragrance of criminality," about the accident and that an alcohol problem "could not have manifested itself all of a sudden out of the clear blue sky on that one Sunday morning." Furthermore, the lawyer said that anyone who knew about her condition and still allowed Schuler to drive could potentially be an accomplice.

Schuler's family is still considering whether or not to have a second autopsy performed to verify the toxicology findings.

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