Taconic mom’s family floats McDonalds defense


Tom Ruskin, an investigator for the Schuler family, says that Taconic mom Diane Schuler couldn’t have been drunk and high when she crashed her car driving the wrong way down the Taconic because she ordered Chicken Selects from McDonalds four hours earlier.

Ruskin floated the unusual theory that a woman who had been drinking would not have argued with a counter employee and insisted on speaking to a manager to get a menu item not usually served during breakfast. He also said that surveillance footage and interviews with employees of the Liberty, NY McDonalds showed that Schuler was not visibly drunk. An affidavit from one of the employees who served Schuler didn’t mention the confrontation.

A woman thought to be Schuler, whose autopsy showed a blood alcohol level of over twice the legal limit and a heavy concentration of THC, was seen by three witnesses vomiting at the side of the road on the morning of the crash. At the time of that report, Ruskin said that if it was Schuler vomiting, it proved that she was incapacitated by illness and not by pot and alcohol.

A lawyer for two of the victims of the crash calls Ruskin’s current theory ridiculous. Brian Sichol, representing the Bastardi family, said “I’m not buying the Chicken Selects defense. It’s just another in a long list of ridiculous excuses thrown out by the Schulers.”

A judge assigned a public adminstrator to oversee Schuler’s estate earlier this week, enabling lawyers for the victims to move forward with lawsuits. Schuler’s husband had intended to handle the estate himself, but the Bastardi family requested the independent administrator. Sichol plans to file suit before the end of the month.

The State Senate unanimously passed a bill this week making it a felony to drive while impaired with children in the car. The Schuler case was mentioned during the brief debate on the bill.