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There's Something Wrong with Aunt Diane (HBO)


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#31

Sarcastico

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Posted Aug 5, 2011 @ 9:40 AM

Thanks, Sarcastico! I knew there was something seriously hinky about what dear old Aunt Jay was saying the child "remembered." (And boy, wouldn't you love if Judge Judy would hear these Danny Schuler vs. ... cases!)


Don't the lawsuits remind you of Greaseball Mommy from Hell -- the mother suing the mother of the girl killed in the car accident that was caused by her son (he let the girl drive Greaseball's car).

Edited by Sarcastico, Aug 5, 2011 @ 9:42 AM.

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#32

Major Misfit

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Posted Aug 5, 2011 @ 9:48 AM

Don't the lawsuits remind you of Greaseball Mommy from Hell -- the mother suing the mother of the girl killed in the car accident that was caused by her son (he let the girl drive Greaseball's car).

TOTALLY! I don't remember if Greaseball Mommy was single, but if so, she seems like a perfect mate for Danny. Someone at some point should get in Danny's face and yell, "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining," and "If it doesn't make sense, it isn't true." I think he could benefit from that advice.
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#33

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Posted Aug 5, 2011 @ 10:28 AM

I don't know about the "functional alcoholism" thing, but she may have been in an alcohol induced blackout. During which she'd appear to be awake and functioning but could be driving recklessly or doing other things she would not do if sober.


I have been sober for 24 years and when this case happened (I live in NYC) the first thing I thought of was that she was probably drunk and in a blackout. I've been in a few of them myself and it's scary as all hell. I've heard people say they've been drunk and driven with their children in the car, I've heard folks say they've gotten in airplanes and flown to different countries in a blackout. It is possible to be completely blacked out and act perfectly normal, like I said, it's scary stuff.

I thought Diane's husband was one of the worst cases of enabling/co-dependent shit I've seen in a long time.
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#34

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Posted Aug 5, 2011 @ 2:28 PM

Thank you, EndoKE -- for that last line of your post, and for further explaining how someone can be blacked out and still apparently functioning.
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#35

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Posted Aug 5, 2011 @ 2:49 PM

I must admit, I've watched this show through spread fingers over my face most of the time...it does ring true as hell.
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#36

ChrisCagney

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Posted Aug 5, 2011 @ 7:07 PM

I can't help being pulled toward this story. I dismiss Danny Schuler..he is an idiot. The one scene that struck me the most was Jay smoking after meeting with the coroner named Warren (he reminded me of Kissinger). She couldn't believe she was being exposed as a smoker because she had kept it hidden all this time. Really? She was a closet smoker..Diane may have been a closet drinker and she couldn't see the connection.

I feel bad for Diane even after the sheer terror that she put those children through for hours before their death. She did everything..breadwinner, maintaining the house, taking a care of the kids (around dinnertime which is the worst) by herself and then she was alone while the kids slept. Thinking about emotional crap of the present and past..

On a lighter note..who the hell makes pina coladas with vodka?
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#37

grittykitty

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Posted Aug 5, 2011 @ 10:26 PM

Just saw the documentary today and it is VERY disturbing on so many levels. One of my questions is if numerous witnesses saw Diane pulled over and throwing up, wouldn't that mean some of the alcohol was out of her body? If so, then her blood alcohol level would have been over .19 - and isn't that practically impossible to still be driving at that state?

Or did she drink more after she threw up? The autopsy report said she still had .25 alcohol in her stomach.

Something would have to be REALLY bad to keep drinking after you've puked. Most people would stop at that point.
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#38

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Posted Aug 6, 2011 @ 12:29 AM

I don't think it was at all clear why she was bent over in the rest area -- was she throwing up or smoking? The witnesses just said she was bent over.
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#39

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Posted Aug 7, 2011 @ 5:35 AM

I didn't get a bad vibe from Jay Schuler, Diane Schuler's sister-in-law. I didn't think she was loving her 15 minutes. I think she genuinely cared for Diane, and she herself is in deep denial about Diane's boozing and drugging. It took a while before Jay would even admit that Diane ever drank, ever smoked weed. And, then, the rationalizations were couched in Disneyland versions. I'm guessing Jay goes to bed at night thinking, how did I miss all that? What could I have done to help that girl? Why was I so blind?

If Jay's guilt moves her to take an active role in 7-year-old-Bryan's long-term care and nurture, then that's a positive effect. The irony of that little boy's survival -- and the father he's left with -- is unbearable to me.

It's very obvious to me, watching and listening to Diane's husband Danny, that he's limited in emotional and mental intelligence. Jay likely feels obligated to help Danny out with lawyers and doctors, the press, etc. Danny is Jay's husband's brother and uncle to her own kids. She is just trying to help out in the most horrendous of situations, in my view.

I agree that the lawsuits filed by Danny Schuler are being done in accordance with the legal requirements of getting some money down the road from insurance companies and New York State for Bryan's needs. It sounds so cold and heartless to sue the Hances, I know.

I've read that Jackie and Warren Hance, the parents of the three little sisters who perished, decided to employ artificial insemination, and Jackie is now pregnant with their fourth child. The baby is due in the Fall.
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#40

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Posted Aug 7, 2011 @ 7:28 AM

The husband was obviously spoiled by his own mother and went from one mother to another after marrying Diane. It was pathetic to see his mother smiling saying that he was Diane's oldest boy and she was the boss and made all the decisions. The NY Mag article says Danny looked at his attorney as a father figure. I don't think he has any clue how to think for himself and is pissed that he now actually has to do something other than being a dependent child.

I was cringing when Jay said he is angry because he never wanted kids and "she was supposed to do all this."

For those that missed it or don't have on demand, the documentary is airing on HBO this afternoon at 2pm EST.
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#41

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Posted Aug 7, 2011 @ 12:00 PM

I was cringing when Jay said he is angry because he never wanted kids and "she was supposed to do all this."


That made me shiver, too. The surviving son will surely see that someday. And, no one should have kids with someone who doesn't want kids. The fact that Diane did that, and had to take care of everything because she's the one who wanted the kids and he didn't, surely contributed to her need to self-medicate and her snapping under the pressure.
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#42

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Posted Aug 7, 2011 @ 2:57 PM

As far as Bryan saying he "flew out of the car"- it's possible he remembers right before the impact and then his next memory is being out of the car and on the grass being cared for by Emergency Services. He doesn't remember how he got there so he assumes he just "flew."

This whole story is just unrelentingly sad and horrible. It was really disturbing but in a weird way it seemed right that they showed the accident pictures of Diane.

When they interviewed the guy who pulled the kids out of the car and he was crying- that was brutal.
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#43

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Posted Aug 7, 2011 @ 3:08 PM

When they interviewed the guy who pulled the kids out of the car and he was crying- that was brutal.


Yep. I felt so bad for that man.

The families of victims of crashes like this are not the only ones to suffer. These good samaritans that tried to help will be traumatized for the rest of their lives now.
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#44

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Posted Aug 7, 2011 @ 3:15 PM

On second viewing, I'm just overwhelmed with sadness for all involved (except for the investigator they hired who seemed greedy and as sensitive as a frozen computer screen.) I think Danny may have just been clinically depressed when he made comments about not wanting kids. After going though what he has, I understand if that's the case. I don't blame him. I think the blame for this lies squarely on Diane Shuler who drove drunk. I don't want to repeat what the forensic detective said at the end of the doc. I just agree with his analysis of her and what happened.
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#45

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Posted Aug 7, 2011 @ 4:49 PM

I believe it was the sister-in-law Jay who said Danny had not wanted to have children, and I'm sure she knew that from long back, so it's not like Danny just said this. He does not strike me at all like someone depressed, just someone who never grew up.
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#46

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Posted Aug 7, 2011 @ 9:16 PM

So, Diane made $100K+ per year; did all the housework and child care and Danny worked nights at what job? Sounds like a real mismatch to me and Danny was the "third child." Why does their house look so modest? With the kind of money she alone was pulling, you'd think they would have better digs. Maybe something he did that morning set her off and she flipped. The eye witness accounts were chilling. It does sound as though she was on a murder-suicide mission. It would seem that Diane, whom everyone said was so level-headed would have stopped in a rest area and phoned for help and stayed put until someone arrived. But then she would be exposed as a drunk and a toker, which I believe she was as she tried desperately to be the super mom with no help at all from her "third child."
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#47

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Posted Aug 7, 2011 @ 9:29 PM

On second viewing, I'm just overwhelmed with sadness for all involved (except for the investigator they hired who seemed greedy and as sensitive as a frozen computer screen.) I think Danny may have just been clinically depressed when he made comments about not wanting kids. After going though what he has, I understand if that's the case. I don't blame him. I think the blame for this lies squarely on Diane Shuler who drove drunk. I don't want to repeat what the forensic detective said at the end of the doc. I just agree with his analysis of her and what happened.


It's totally horrific and then it ripped out my heart with sadness and sorrow, and I agree that Diane was nat fault for driving while beyond under the influence and causing ao mkuch heartache as a result.
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#48

Sarcastico

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Posted Aug 8, 2011 @ 7:09 AM

So, Diane made $100K+ per year; did all the housework and child care and Danny worked nights at what job?


According to the New York Magazine article, Danny was (maybe still is) a security guard on the night shift at a state park, making $43,000 a year.

Watching it for the 4th time, this marriage does seem strange. I was struck this time by one of her high school friends, who said she was heavy back then and never had any boyfriends. "She never had that kind of companionship." Then she lost some weight, and she met Danny at a friend's wedding. It seems like she married the first schlumpf who showed any interest in her. Yes, he was cute back then, many pounds ago, but they really seem like a mismatch.

I'm grateful that this documentary was made, but the ongoing lawsuits make me think that it was made maybe 5-10 years too soon. Nobody from the Hance family spoke on camera, and after viewing this a few times, I can really feel the lack of their presence. On the other hand, hearing from so many witnesses so soon after the accident, when their memories are still so clear, was a good thing.
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#49

jcoop13

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Posted Aug 8, 2011 @ 1:22 PM

So, Diane made $100K+ per year; did all the housework and child care and Danny worked nights at what job? Sounds like a real mismatch to me and Danny was the "third child." Why does their house look so modest? With the kind of money she alone was pulling, you'd think they would have better digs.


The cost of living on Long Island NY is high- just like any place that's considered within commuting distance of NYC. A 40-year-old, four bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house in good condition generally sells for 430k-450k. Property taxes run between 8k-10k per year. Gas prices and the sales tax bite, too. Add everything up and 143k buys less than it would in many other parts of the U.S.

Edited by jcoop13, Aug 8, 2011 @ 1:24 PM.

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#50

Lola

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Posted Aug 8, 2011 @ 1:44 PM

I live not far from the area of the accident. Her final route would have taken her extremely close to my home. I finally watched this yesterday afternoon.

Two years ago, I said that I did not trust the husband. I believe it more even now. He knows so much more than he is letting on.
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#51

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Posted Aug 8, 2011 @ 2:01 PM

Watching it for the 4th time,

OMG -- so glad to read this admission, Sarcastico, I've watched it 4 times already, too. It's not TV, it's CRACK.

Nobody from the Hance family spoke on camera, and after viewing this a few times, I can really feel the lack of their presence.

I'm curious if the Hances know more about her drinking issue and prefer to keep it to themselves. After all, she was Warren's sister and maybe he is trying to protect her to a certain extent. Also odd is that I don't think they ever disclosed what she said to him on her last cell phone call.

He knows so much more than he is letting on.

You bet. His entire story about the morning of the accident, from the first press conference, to the Larry King appearance, to the press, to this documenary was always rote: "We got up. We packed our bags. We loaded the car. We made coffee. We left." No details. No revelations about any sort of conversation. Just very basic, matter-of-fact statements. And while Danny doesn't strike me as someone who's in anyway verbose, when something traumatic happens, people usually have a heightened recall of the events surrounding that moment. Danny, however, seemed to have been reciting a paragraph written by Stephanie Meyer.
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#52

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Posted Aug 8, 2011 @ 4:13 PM

I'm curious if the Hances know more about her drinking issue and prefer to keep it to themselves. After all, she was Warren's sister and maybe he is trying to protect her to a certain extent. Also odd is that I don't think they ever disclosed what she said to him on her last cell phone call.


This surprised me too. It also surprised me that as Warren hopped into the car to head up there that his wife didn't call 911 and try to get the police to intercept them. Or that she didn't call Danny. I've read so much on this case that I can't remember where I read it but Warren said his sister was stubborn.


He knows so much more than he is letting on.


It's so opposite to me that someone with something to hide would be so out there as far as looking for an audience goes. You'd think he'd lay low. Even the press conference in the documentary, his attorney said "I thought this was not necessary but Danny wanted to talk about his wife." Then the Larry King appearance where he looked furious and threw out the monotone "cooking marshmallows" comment again when asked how he explains the vodka.

You bet. His entire story about the morning of the accident, from the first press conference, to the Larry King appearance, to the press, to this documenary was always rote: "We got up. We packed our bags. We loaded the car. We made coffee. We left." No details. No revelations about any sort of conversation. Just very basic, matter-of-fact statements. And while Danny doesn't strike me as someone who's in anyway verbose, when something traumatic happens, people usually have a heightened recall of the events surrounding that moment. Danny, however, seemed to have been reciting a paragraph written by Stephanie Meyer.


He said in (I think) the NY Mag article that Diane talked to him when something needed to be done like the gutters needed cleaning. It really seems a strange relationship.

I've watched it 5 times. It's that chilling and absorbing. I also DVR'd it Sunday so I have it when HBO removes it from On Demand. I keep watching and scrutinizing it because the why is just eating at me.
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#53

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Posted Aug 8, 2011 @ 5:09 PM

My sister has been bugging me to watch this for about week now...finally broke down and watched it this afternoon.

Didn't one of the sisters of the other car's victims mention something about (not verbatim) "...and then Danny pushed her." when they were leaving the park? I haven't seen this mentioned on this thread yet...just curious. Who saw this/said this?

What was additionally haunting about this doc on a personal level is that I drove across the Taconic Pkwy. that day as I was coming back from Rochester,NY to Cape Cod after visiting my brother, his wife and my 5 nieces.
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#54

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Posted Aug 8, 2011 @ 7:59 PM

Didn't one of the sisters of the other car's victims mention something about (not verbatim) "...and then Danny pushed her." when they were leaving the park? I haven't seen this mentioned on this thread yet...just curious. Who saw this/said this?

I don't remember hearing that in the doc. (Why, hellllllllllo viewing #5!)

Here's another reason why Danny Schuler may want to continue floating the lie that "Diane wasn't a drinker":

Child Protective Services of Suffolk County has launched an investigation of Daniel Schuler, according to Newsday. The purpose of the investigation will be to find out what he knew about his wife's use of alcohol and marijuana the day of her fatal crash on the Taconic State Parkway that killed eight people. If Child Protective Services finds that Schuler knew in advance of his wife's drinking, he could lose custody of his surviving child, Bryan.


That article was from 2009; presumably CPS found no reason or had no evidence to remove the child from the home. That said, I have to believe he's putting up the smokescreen of "something medical must have happened" not out of any sort of delusion, but because he doesn't want to be liable for anything and/or he's just creating some mythology of Diane as a "saint" so Bryan doesn't think mommy is a murderer.

And some good questions as to why Warren didn't do the right thing:

And when Schuler called her brother Warren to say she was sick, couldn't he tell she was drunk not sick? If she was drunk and he knew it, he had an obligation to call the police, not just an obligation to tell her to pull off the road. Better your sister charged with DWI then have to go to your own and her children's funeral.

...but if she had an alcohol problem that her family knew about, then they are guilty of child neglect also.


Jackie Hance, from what I've read, declined to meet with the police to give a statement. Interesting.

Edited by Major Misfit, Aug 8, 2011 @ 7:59 PM.

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#55

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Posted Aug 8, 2011 @ 8:10 PM

I've been thinking about all of the comments in the film in which people say that Diane was fine as long as she was in control of the situation. But life isn't like that. As much as one wants to be in control, you can't help traffic jams, supermarket lines, a forgotten item for a trip that you have to run out and get, someone suddenly having to go to the bathroom for a period of time before you embark on a trip.

There was some suggestion in the film that perhaps Diane, running late, flipped out over running late and was honking and what have you and that maybe she couldn't handle the fact that she was not on time--thereby not in control of the situation-- and that caused her to drink and just flip out. But there had to have been other occasions where everything did not go smoothly in her life. Did she respond to those events by drinking or smoking as well? Did she typically drive like a maniac? Her husband can answer that and I would bet that her giggly best friend knows more than she said as well. Those giggles just said so much.

I don't remember hearing the sisters saying that but you can bet I'm going to forward through it again to see what they said.
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#56

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Posted Aug 8, 2011 @ 9:40 PM

This documentary was, at first, maddening to me. I thought the filmmaker was lazy. While I understood that the Hance family wouldn't talk to Liz Garbus and that Danny Schuler was an impossibly tough nut to crack, there were too many questions that were never even asked, let alone, answered. I smelled big secrets and bigger lies, but I didn't think I could base my suspicions on anything I learned from the film. Later, though, I decided I was wrong about that.

From the start, I didn't want to believe that 36-year-old Diane Schuler was just another drunk and junkie who selfishly decided to imbibe, with five kids in her minivan, on a Sunday morning. Everything the doc revealed about her showed a hardworking, decent (though bitchy) woman, who had a productive place in society. So? What? She couldn't wait a half-hour to get home before hitting the Absolut again?

I fell into a dogged kind of CSI mode. Did toxicology check the contents of the vodka bottle? What about the lip, the cap, the fingerprints on the bottle? Could it have been tampered with? If Diane Schuler smoked pot 15 minutes to one hour before her death, as reported in the documentary by the toxicologist, were there any remnants of a joint anywhere? If not, why not? Did her tongue, mouth, teeth show recent pot use? Did she actually smoke it or was the pot forcibly administered in other ways?

Did the autopsy actually find any evidence of an abscessed tooth, gum or mouth infection, as Diane's husband insisted? The documentary didn't mention that either. I was anxiously waiting to hear that info! At least I didn't catch it.

So, since I couldn't stop thinking about the film, I went to watch it again...then a third time. In fact, whenever I surf channels, if I happen to come across this doc midstream, I have no choice but to stop and to watch again. It feels almost disrespectful to the dead to ignore what I'm seeing in front of me. The photo of Mrs Schuler at the crash site is really impossible to forget. All alone, with her terrible Secret.

And after all those viewings, I've come away thinking that, for me, most of the answers to what happened that terrible day are right there in front of my eyes and ears. There really isn't a mystery, after all.

I don't think I can ever know why what happened actually happened that morning on the Taconic, but, for me, I believe the chances are good that Diane Schuler made a conscious decision that day to kill herself and to bring her own children and her brother's three girls with her. I can't know what pushed her, but I believe that Mrs Schuler thought she was making the right decision for herself and for her family, and like the bossy, take-charge, rigidly unbendable, inflexible and unrelenting woman everybody described in the documentary -- her friends, estranged friends, coworkers, in-laws, sis-in-law -- Diane did what she thought she had to do. She fortified herself with lethal amounts of vodka and pot, closed her ears to the screams of those babies in the back seat, convinced herself that this was for the best.

What actually happened between Diane and her husband, or, what actually had been percolating for years between Diane and her brother, Warren, will probably never be known to the public. But, I do believe, based on listening to the interviews and, especially, to the eyewitnesses interviewed in this film, along with Jay Schuler's spontaneous blurt-outs, that Diane decided to end her life that morning. But, there was no way, no how, she was going to leave her two children behind. Her husband didn't want them and didn't care about them; he may have resented them every day of their lives. And, above all else, Diane would never abandon her kids, leave them alone, in the same way her mother did to her and, for which, Diane never forgave or forgot -- or recovered.

Why take her three little nieces with her in the end? That's an interesting question to me, and I can't help but wonder about Diane and Warren's relationship, growing up in that house, little kids abandoned by their mom, growing into their teens. Warren embraced his mom in reconciliation; did Diane secretly hate him for that? Did she feel betrayed? Diane did call her brother -- her last call before the end. Did she tell him why she was about to do the unthinkable? What a cross to bear.

Lots of secrets and lies. In the end, the documentary wasn't as nebulous or unsatisfactory as I first thought. Maybe a B-. I wanted more questions asked, but, realistically, I know they'll never be answered.
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#57

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Posted Aug 9, 2011 @ 12:16 AM

Yes, sleekandchic, it certainly looks like she wanted oblivion, and she would not be the first woman (unfortunately) to kill her children. Some women plan how to kill their children (Susan Smith and Andrea Yates are the most horrifying examples that come to mind), but it sounds like something snapped for Diane that day and she used the weapon at hand -- the car. As I rewatched the documentary, I wondered if she was drinking to get up the nerve to do this -- rather than the drinking made her do it.
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#58

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Posted Aug 9, 2011 @ 6:56 AM

Why take her three little nieces with her in the end? That's an interesting question to me, and I can't help but wonder about Diane and Warren's relationship, growing up in that house, little kids abandoned by their mom, growing into their teens. Warren embraced his mom in reconciliation; did Diane secretly hate him for that? Did she feel betrayed?


All true. But there were 4 brothers in that family, and all of them maintained a relationship with their mother. So why did Diane feel the need to single-out Warren?

I'm willing to believe she decided to kill herself and her children that morning. But at what point did she decide her nieces would have to die too? Or at what point did she become so wasted on the vodka and reefer that she just forgot that they were there?

And I think that her recent weight gain was attributable to the vodka. There's nothing like vodka for packing on the pounds.

The review of the film in the New York Times said something interesting: the Schulers agreed to the movie because the producers promised to get answers out of Tom Ruskin, the PI who was hired by their lawyer Dominick Barbara to re-run the toxicology tests. He just wasn't responding to them.

Edited by Sarcastico, Aug 9, 2011 @ 9:10 AM.

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#59

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Posted Aug 9, 2011 @ 8:44 AM

The terrible thing about someone who decides in the heat of the moment to undertake a murder-suicide is that there are sometimes random victims who just happened to be in the wrong place. Whateve happened with Diane, it was not a plan, it was a moment of opportunity, and it was tragic that she took any other victims. You can say the same aoubt those three men in the car she hit -- she did not plan to kill them, but they were in the way of her path of destruction. I did not know until I watched the documentary that she left the cell phone on the side of the road, and that also shows she did not want to be impeded, if destruction was what she had decided.
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#60

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Posted Aug 9, 2011 @ 10:45 AM

The review of the film in the New York Times said something interesting: the Schulers agreed to the movie because the producers promised to get answers out of Tom Ruskin, the PI who was hired by their lawyer Dominick Barbara to re-run the toxicology tests. He just wasn't responding to them.


When Jay was on the phone with Ruskin late in the film, he says he called to give results to them and Jay says "I was told not to pick up because they didn't think you were doing anything." I thought that was odd. He also said he called Danny. I didn't like the guy, he sounded like a real tool but something happened if Jay was told not to take his calls.

One of the text screens says that six months after the crash the documentary people approached the Schulers about making an investigative documentary. I'm betting that the cooperation of the family came with conditions from their lawyer that certain questions/subjects were off limits.

One of the Bastardis said they refused to participate because he just knew it would be slanted in favor of the family. Of course it was because without the film makers' agreement to not discuss certain things, the film would not have been made.

The lawsuits seem to be flying:
Danny filed suit against the Hances and the State
Jackie Hance has filed suit against Danny.
The Bastardis filed suit against Danny and the Hances.
The family of unrelated passenger Longo, killed in the Bastardi vehicle is suing Schuler's Estate, Hance and Michael Bastardi's sister.

I thought Werner Spitz told them that there was no evidence of stroke on the autopsy and made some type of hand gesture to show how a stroke would show up. As far as testing the car for joint residue, wouldn't it have burned away with the car? I do want to know if/when/how the vodka bottle was tested.

I found an article from 2009 in which Joan Schuler, Danny's sister told the district attorney that "she knew for a fact that the deceased, Diane used marijuana daily because of the fact that she didn't believe in doctors and that this was the best medicine in the world as far as she was concerned."
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