The latest issue of PEOPLE Magazine arrived in my mailbox with a picture of Diane Schuler in the top corner. In the PEOPLE article, her family admitted that Schuler occasionally smoked marijuana to help her sleep but insisted she wasn't a big drinker, that when her brother-in-law mixed drinks at family gatherings she would tell him to throw them out and start over if she could taste the alcohol.
The timeline is that Schuler and the kids left the campground at 9:30 AM; went to McDonald's and left there by 10:45 AM; and it's now being reported that video was obtained of her stopping at a Sunoco gas station/convenience store in Liberty, NY. She pumped gas, then asked the clerk inside for pain relievers. She didn't appear intoxicated. Private investigator Thomas Ruskin, who was hired by Schuler's family, told the Daily News that the guy behind the counter "said she asked him for Tylenol or Advil and he didn't have any - so the question becomes what was bothering Diane Schuler?" (http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2009/08/14/2009-08-14_she_stopped_for_pain_med_says_taconic_mom_lawyer.html) She called her brother at about 11:45 AM to say she was running late due to traffic but she'd have her nieces home in time for a performance rehearsal they were scheduled to go to, and she sounded fine. She got a call at 12:08 PM, but it's not known from who; no details have been released about that. It wasn't until 12:58 PM that her oldest niece called her dad and told him Schuler was having trouble seeing and that her speech was slurred. In another article, "Driver's Spouse Meets Police About Crash that Killed 8," in the New York Times(http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/15/nyregion/15taconic.html?_r=1) private investigator Ruskin says “There is some catastrophic event that is affecting her ability to speak, to see, her ability to know where she is and to make rational judgments. The Diane that they [her family] know does not drink and would never smoke marijuana in a car with kids.”
So she was in some kind of physical pain, and when she couldn't get Advil or Tylenol, she decided to sneak just a little bit of marijuana and vodka to self-medicate -- but she couldn't stop/got carried away because she was a secret alcoholic? That explains why she conveniently "lost" her cell phone after talking to her brother and deciding to keep driving. She was probably thinking that if she could just get the kids home, no one would find out what she'd done.
My friend's husband had an interesting theory that she started smoking the pot first, but it was laced with some other drug that made her go crazy and think that drinking all the vodka was a good idea. But then we realized whatever drug it was laced with would have shown up in the toxicology tests.
But who was that mysterious phone call at 12:08 from? Did she receive some sort of upsetting news, and that, combined with her physical pain, set her off?
Probably the only way we'll come even remotely close to knowing the full story is if Schuler's 5-year-old son remembers anything. According to this article in Newsday, he is still recovering from head injuries at St. Mary's Hospital for Children in Queens (http://www.newsday.com/long-island/boy-who-survived-taconic-crash-told-of-kin-s-deaths-1.1373415) and hasn't been interviewed at all.
In other news...tomorrow is my first day of work: three weeks of professional development for my new teaching job. Wish me luck -- I may need it.