Saturday, July 30, 2011

The HBO Schuler Show

I watched the documentary on Diane Schuler and the fatal car crash on the Taconic Parkway last night.  As documentaries goes it was outstanding.  Well-researched, well-presented, very fair (with one error - the timeline placed Schuler on the NYS Thruway too soon, as it doesn't take 13 minutes to go from being on I-87 at Harriman to the Harriman toll booth.  She was still on NY 17 at that point.  It was graphical error, and we're splitting hairs). 

For many of the us in the New York-metro area, almost every piece of land shown was familiar territory.  I've driven all of the route that Schuler followed that fateful day, and have gone past the accident site more times than I can count.  I'll always remember the charred ground that remained in the days following the accident.

My conclusion was that, while Schuler may not have been an alcoholic (from the comments of all in the show), she made a terrible error in judgement.  She had an abscessed tooth that was bothering her, tried to buy a pain reliever at a Sunoco in Liberty, NY and when she couldn't, opened the bottle of vodka that was in the car, and began to make the pain go away.  That's certainly a plausible theory.

This is video of Schuler in that Sunoco:

There was a lot to analyze about the show.  Much to regret (she pulled over beyond the Tappan Zee Bridge toll booth...if only she had stayed there).

Daniel Schuler comes away looking like a regular guy who seems baffled by the whole thing.  It doesn't take away from the fact that his lawsuits and other buffoonery are outrageous.  Yet I found myself saying that if he wants to exhume her body and perform another autopsy, then go for it.  Be done with it.

His sister seemed harmless, though she later confessed that he never wanted kids and really wasn't much of a great father.  Nor was he living in reality.  I'm not sure I'd be happy if my sister told a filmmaker that.

The investigator, Tom Ruskin, and lawyer Domenic Barbara came off looking greedy.  No shock there.

Diane Schuler seemed like someone that was easily liked.  Perfectionist.  Good mom.  Loving.  Large personality.  Class clown.  Tells-it-like-it-is.  And yet, maybe too perfect.  Flawed.  The pictures of Schuler, dead on the ground, were as gruesome as I imagined.  I'm curious whose decision it was to show those, but I can't say they bothered me.

The show was an emotional run.  Four children died.  Four families were destroyed.  A little boy trying to cope with being the sole survivor, but also recovering from his own injuries.  Countless others - onlookers, first responders, good Samaritans, passers-by, were all impacted.

The whole thing gave me pause.  A reminder that life is just way too short and that things can always be worse.  Hurt over children being hurt.  A reminder to love those that I love with all that I have, and hope that they (you) all know how much I appreciate everyone and care.

Quite a reality check.

It can all be taken away too easily.


Heather said...

I watched the HBO documentary yesterday. It appeared that something happened to Diane Schuler. I wonder what her blood sugar level was/ I wonder if she was being treated for her gestational diabetes?

Heather said...

I watched the HBO Schuler show yesterday. It does seem that something happened to her. I wondered if they tested her blood sugar level (I did read the toxicology report and did not see it). I wondered if she was being treated for diabetes and no one knew. I wondered how long she had been off the highway before she got back on. I wondered if there was anyway that they used the wrong blood work (I know they said they did a DNA test on it). It seems that the guy Rustin is not trustworthy.

Rob Adams said...

Heather, I keep thinking that it had something to do with her teeth, and that they were bothering her so much that she took a swig of vodka to ease the pain. Then another swig...and another...