Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Diane Schuler, Drunk Driver

For more than a week, New Yorkers have been consumed by the story of the Long Island mother who drove in the wrong direction on the Taconic Parkway and killed eight people, including herself. All of her brother's three children, Schuler's own daughter, and three men in an oncoming car died in the accident.

The New York State police didn't help matters any by announcing that the autopsy did not indicate a physical cause for actions. Today they said that her blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit and that she also had used marijuana.

I have to say that I was very angry when I first heard the story. I assumed drinking was involved until the police gave their initial incomplete and inaccurate report. Perhaps she had undiagnosed diabetes, no other physical cause seemed to make sense. As late as yesterday police were combing the crash site and the exit ramp she mistakenly entered to find the accident cause.

I think I am also angry because I forsook my usual cynicism and believed what I was told. Now it turns out she was a garden variety drunk and her family had to have known. She did not start drinking heavily the day of the accident, that much is certain. Her husband and her brother had to have been aware of her alcohol problems before that day.

It now makes sense that her husband had no public comment. Her poor brother is now mourning is children and wondering what he could have done to save them before his oldest daughter called to say that she was afraid of the way her aunt was driving.

I'm certain that her family was in denial about the extent of her problem. I'm sure she claimed to be fine when she left the campsite, she may have been sober but started drinking when no other adults could see her. That probably explains why her cell phone was found at a rest stop. She had a sip or two while she was there.

There is a hard lesson here for people who love addicts. You don't help them when you enable and you may be killing other people too.

I was looking at comments from New York Times readers and this one stands out.

I guess what’s most interesting is how the national Cult of the Mother got the best of everyone… where the story of this crash was about the mystery of this wonderful mother driving the wrong way. Nothing about the three guys in the other car that she killed. Nobody would DARE suggest that a nice mother from a nice town on the Island had been drinking!

Frankly if the husband and/or brother knew she was drinking I think it would be quite likely they’d try to cover it up with a story about how she was “feeling ill” or whatever.
Sick of this country’s mommy cult. It clouds the judgement.

She could have added the word "white" to mommy and nice. That completes the explanation of the press coverage.