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The Dangers of Independence Weekend

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It is Independence weekend and you’re weighing in or have already decided where you and your loved ones will be traveling this weekend. With gasoline prices raising and north and south bound routes are starting to become congested…there is also another precaution you should be making.

Be aware of your surroundings at all times when you are en route to your destination. Whether you are going to the city or driving south to the shore, everyone must be aware of drunk drivers. While we all are aware of drunk drivers on the roads on a daily basis, drunk drivers will be even more frequent during the holidays. While you may not be driving intoxicated, someone else may be. Without being cautious of other drivers, these drunk drivers can possibly hit you from behind or the sides. Or in some cases, drunk drivers may even be driving on the wrong side of the road, like in a car accident in which, Diane Schuler was an impaired driver that caused a crash that killed multiple people in 2009.

A 36-year old mom, Diane Schuler, was driving home on Taconic State Parkway with five children after picking them up from a New York campground. Before the accident had occurred, Schuler had called her brother while she was driving to tell him she wasn’t feeling well. Her brother warned Schuler to stop driving and pull over, however, she refused to. Instead, Schuler’s brother called the police, but it was too late.

Schuler made a wrong turn into an exit to get onto the parkway and drove on the fast lane straight into the traffic. Other drivers were luckily able to quickly swerved out of Schuler’s path. There were signs by the exit ramp that clearly stated that Schuler was heading the wrong way.

Diane Schuler‘s van collided with an SUV that carried three men, all of whom died from the crash. In Schuler’s van, her 2-year old daughter died along with Schuler and her three nieces. Schuler’s 5-year old son was the only survivor from the crash.

Officials did a test on Schuler’s blood alcohol content and had a measurement of 0.19, more than double the 0.08 legal limit. Schuler was also under the influence of marijuana. Investigators also found a bottle of vodka in Schuler’s car, which came to the conclusion that she might have been drinking alcohol while she was driving after an autopsy revealed that her stomach had contained alcohol.

The co-owner of the NY campground claimed that she had saw Schuler and she appeared “well.” He added, “If she had alcohol on her breath, I sure didn't smell it.” On the other hand, director of toxicology Betsy Spratt said that Schuler had about 10 shots of liquor in her system.

The case was ruled as a homicide due to the amount of deaths. Though, months later, family members from the SUV, the Bastardi family, is trying to collect damages based off the fact that two of the three passengers in the SUV were suffering “pre-impact terror, mental anguish and serious personal injuries” before they died. Schuler’s brother in law, also father of the three daughters that died, is named in the suit because Schuler was driving his car, and by state law, he is required to be named in the lawsuit because he was the owner of the vehicle that caused the crash.

It is evident that no one should be under the influence of any sort while driving, especially during the rush from 4th of July. You should also be aware of who is on the road. If you observe that someone is swerving or making reckless driving decisions, notify the police immediately. If a driver were to give the slightest bit of indication that he or she is under the influence, notify the police. Even though you may have dodged an accident, someone else may be caught off guard. Protect your loved ones, drive sober and safe!

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Ferran, Lee. "Diane Schuler, Wrong-Way Highway Driver Who Killed 8 Had 10 Drinks, Was High." ABC News. ABC News Network, 04 Aug. 2009. Web. 02 July 2014.

Zraick, Karen. "Suit Filed in Wrong-Way Crash That Killed 8 on Taconic." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Dec. 2009. Web. 02 July 2014.

 

 

Joseph M. Ghabour
Auto, Bus, Pedestrian, Motorcycle accident, medical malpractice and worker's compensation attorney.
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