Q&A Liz Garbus: Why HBO’s ‘There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane’ Was Her Toughest Film Yet

| August 5, 2011 10:05 AM video

Filmmaker Liz Garbus. Her new film, "Something's Wrong with Aunt Diane," runs on HBO through September 11. Photo courtesy of Moxie Firecracker Productions.

Liz Garbus is an award-winning documentary film director and producer and the co-founder of Moxie Firecracker Films, an independent documentary production company. Garbus has been nominated for multiple Academy Awards and her newest film, “There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane,” is airing on HBO’s Documentary Films Summer Series. The film examines one of the worst vehicle accidents in New York State History.

Garbus spoke with her longtime friend, Karen Duffy, the journalist, actor, model and bestselling author who goes by the moniker “Duff.”

Daniel Schuler, right, holds hands with sisters-in-law Jay Schuler, center, and Joyce Schuler, left, while surrounded by reporters during a press conference in Garden City, N.Y. Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009. AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Duff: What made you decide to make a film about Diane Schuler’s horrific accident on the Taconic Parkway two years ago?

Garbus: I think for every New Yorker, especially for mothers,  the story of that car accident two years ago was impossible to forget about. It just seemed so incomprehensible that on a Sunday afternoon, a beautiful, bright clear day, a mother  – who had no prior record, no prior DUIs, no involvement with drugs or alcohol, no history of depression or any of these things — gets behind the wheel on a journey that turns tragic. Ultimately driving two miles the wrong way on the Taconic and crashing into an oncoming vehicle which killed three men in that car, and her three nieces, her 2-year-old daughter and herself.

As we know, the toxicology reports then came back five days later and showed she had .19 blood alcohol level, which is twice the legal limit, and also very elevated THC levels, indicating that marijuana had been smoked within an hour.

It was puzzling in my mind and everyone’s mind because the anecdotal evidence about Diane Shuler was that she was this devoted mother and a very capable executive at Cablevision.

This film was particularly difficult. I’ve dealt with people who’ve committed crimes, I’ve dealt with murder before and I’ve gone and talked to the victims’ families and dealt with people in deep trauma and crisis. But in this particular case, there was no closure.

Duff: She would be considered a so-called “tiger mother”?

Garbus: Exactly. She was the breadwinner — she had two kids immaculately dressed every morning. She did this on her own because her husband worked nights. She would work during the day and have the kids on her own at night.  She wasn’t a single parent, but she had a lot of responsibilities since her husband also worked nights.

So there was a lot on her plate, but she seemed to handle everything quite well. She did well in her job; they loved her there. She didn’t have a college education, yet she kept getting promoted and at the time of her death was earning around $100,000 a year. People who knew her at the schools said she was always the one organizing class gifts and volunteering for trips and the kids showed up early, their clothes ironed. Here was a person that did it all and seemed to do it extraordinarily.

Duff: As a filmmaker, you certainly don’t shy away from difficult material, but yet you said this film was very hard for you to make…

Garbus: Every film is difficult it its own way, but this film was particularly difficult. I’ve dealt with people who’ve committed crimes, I’ve dealt with murder before and I’ve gone and talked to the victims’ families and dealt with people in deep trauma and crisis. But in this particular case, there was no closure. Everyone had different stories, different visions of what happened that day. Because there was no trial for Diane Schuler and because there was no judicial process. It just hung out in peoples’ lives like this terrible terrible wound — an open, gaping wound in the lives of all the people affected that day. Walking around in their world required great empathy. These were people in crisis and when you walk into those worlds and turn your lens on them it’s a huge responsibility. And in a case that was so heated, it weighed very heavily on me, more so than other films because of the tremendous loss that these families had gone through.

Duff: The film explores this horrific crash, but there’s really not a smoking gun. We have the toxicology and the autopsy report, but in the footage from the gas station she seems collected, purposeful and focused. She doesn’t look like someone who had 10 shots of alcohol. As a civilized society we want to assign responsibility and blame, but here there are no answers and I think we want answers…

Garbus: I didn’t walk in saying, “we’re going to help New York state investigators find the smoking gun.” I didn’t have the illusion that we were going to go in there and find a hot lead that would then turn the thing on its face. Of course, we wanted to pursue every angle.

We went after medical records that could show us more about Diane’s history, or a psychological profile for a humanistic point of view. Understanding Diane better, talking to people who  hadn’t yet come forward, was important. But I do think that at the end of the day we want a smoking gun. We want it to be black and white, and it’s nearly impossible, especially for those close to the tragedy, to live without that.

So she becomes a saint in the memory of those who were close to her. And there are various shades of denial and also general, understandable shock and this lack of comprehension.

Duff: I thought the experts that you spoke with had such compassion in speaking to the Schuler family. I thought that was one of the most moving scenes, the clarity and the humanity.

Garbus: It wasn’t just the Schulers that needed some of these experts to put this into context .  We needed experts and our audience needed it. We needed one of the most respected medical examiners to look through this case and discuss it with us. Could there have been anything left out? We need a forensic psychiatrist to talk about Diane’s childhood and piece together the anecdotal evidence to come up with a better understanding of who she was.

I think one of the experts talked about how so many small things lead up to this terrible hole. And we want it to be one bad thing like she was committing suicide or she found out some horrible thing, but what if it were just  a dozen small things that were not terrible, but add up to a terrible whole? And I think that’s what we can’t understand.

No, she was not a saint, but no she was not an evil person. And I think there is a tendency to put people in these black and white squares but sometimes they don’t fit. And then when they don’t fit, or when the pattern of the crime doesn’t fit, there’s denial and disbelief.

Duff: For everyone who heard this story when it happened, Diane was demonized.  But you say in the film, “a person is more than just their worst action…”

Garbus: I am not equal to my worst action. No, I haven’t had drinks with five kids in the car, but I’ve done bad things. I am a complicated person that makes mistakes but also does great things, like we all are. Diane was like that as well. But the media, the 24-hour news cycle, the desire to say “drunk mom,” “suicide mission”… It just reduces everything and makes it impossible for the people who are left there and I think that’s a very negative part of our society.

“There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane” premieres on HBO at Monday 9 p.m.

WATCH VIDEO:

 

The trailer for “There’s something wrong with Aunt Diane”,” which is available on HBO through September 11, 2011.

Duff: Was it difficult to get the Schulers and the other victims’ families to talk to you?

Garbus: For the Schulers, having a platform like the one we were able to give with HBO was appealing. I think also, we were going to do an investigation — we were going to help get the medical records and push as far as we could, to find whatever other information we could to help us understand what happened that day.

So once I think they understood the work we do, there was a desire and a comfort level. People weren’t open on day one, but as time goes on, there’s trust that forms and again I think that’s why it was so difficult. You want to honor their trust, but you also have to be in the honesty business and say, “look this might not turn up the answer that you’re looking for.” Everyone has this fantasy that someone will have the answer that they’re looking for on a platter.

Duffy: What did you learn in making the film?

Garbus:I learned about the ideals around motherhood, the way that she was put on a pedestal as the perfect mom, what the ingredients of being a perfect mom looked like. The idea is probably too much for anybody to be, yet we want people to be it. This idea about how the desire for answers and completion eludes us and how difficult that is to deal with.

One of the first things I say in the film is, “we may not find out anything new…is that okay?” Everybody was along for the journey knowing that might be the case. But hopefully by the end of it, there was an understanding that multiple answers and shades of gray can suffice, but some things are never knowable.

  • cara

    The whole case was solved when Jay was smoking outside and she said ‘NO ONE IN MY FAMILY EVEN KNOWS I SMOKE’….hellooooooo AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO CAUGHT THAT…NOW ISN’T IT OBVIOUS THAT NO ONE IN THE FAMILY KNEW DIANE SHULER WAS A DRUNK/DRUG ADDICT……PLEASE TELL ME SOMEONE ELSE CAUGHT THAT.

    • Lindy

      Yes, I caught that comment too. Why do you smoke pot when you have children to care for? She was a closet drinker, they worked different shifts, she did stuff while he was at work. Addiction is a disease! The family may have never known she was a alcoholic, plus some alcoholics are perfectionist, and hide there problems very well. I know, we had have 2 alcoholics in are family, and they hide it from everyone, until it reached a downward spiral, or death.
      Peace to those who lost their love ones.

    • Cindy

      I caught Jay’s comment about the smoking. You think that, just because she kept her smoking a secret that everyone in the family had secrets? Thats just rediculous in my opinion. Many people smoke behind their families back for different reasons. Thier spouses demand that they do not smoke, and so they hide the fact from their family. She wasn’t hiding it from the world or her brother in law now was she? I don’t get how you can make such a bizarre and cold assumption like that. I guess you think that your faults should have no bearing on the shortcomings of any of your immediate family members. It’s easy for you to sit back and accuse, even though you weren’t there to know what exactly happened.

    • Janette

      I thought the same exact thing….these people are in serious denial..tox. Reports don’t lie…she had an addiction problem, she needed help! Also the husband said ” i didnt want any kids”. Nice thing to say on film, one day that little boy will see that. Way to go dad

  • lisa

    I missed Jay’s comment, even though I watched the film twice. I am haunted by this tragedy and thought the film was dignified and fair.

  • Mike

    I wish someone would investigate the husband, Danny. ‘Danny, are you with me?’, Danny did not want any kids, Diane did and now he is stuck with Bryan… Hmmmmm… Did he slip her something? He has no interest in investigating anything, it is all being pulled by Jay, his sister in law. He really needs to be looked at more closely.

  • Sandy

    In all the various websites comments, no one has mentioned the interviewee’s being of a Catholic community who do not reveal anything that may violate the principles of the church.

    I do not know if CBC tests can be run on a deceased person but if so, her white cell count could show massive infection and as the doctor from Cornell explained,a delirum could have affected her judgement,

  • Lisa

    The reports don’t lie. She drank that morning, and some of the alcohol still had not metabolized, still in her stomach. She had high levels of THC meaning she smoked within the hour of the accident. Addiction is a disease and she was in the grips of it. Her denial about her addition led her to cope by drinking. Many addicts drink throughout the day and act perfectly fine. As awful as it seems, she probably drank most mornings and acted fine b/c she was tolerant of it. This particular day she wasn’t, perhaps the tooth pain made her drink more, perhaps she didn’t eat that morning and she blacked out, the alcohol in this case got ahead of her and in the midst of it all, smoked pot. It doesn’t make sense to most but it would for an addict.

    I don’t think she was a bad person, I think she was human who thought she could handle it, someone who had a lot on her plate and because of her secret addition allowed her to think she could drink and drive her children and nieces home safely. My heart goes out to all families. One thing though, her husband Danny’s denial is so strong, common to Diane’s that if he doesn’t get into therapy and come to terms that his wife made a fatal horrible terrible terrible mistake b/c of her addiction then this family will never heal.
    Denial is part of this terrible tragedy. Diane GOT BACK INTO THE CAR after her brother told her to stay put, she had stopped driving. She didn’t want to get caught and be found out so she continued to drive. The denial is what continues to plague this family. For his son’s sake, come to terms with the truth. She wasn’t a bad person, she was an addict.

  • tom

    Why, when Danny was asked if Diane smoked pot – he responded occasionally & Jay said that Diane smokes to get a good night’s rest, was the next question- did she do it every night?

  • Lane Leonard

    My continuing question is … Is there any footage of Diane alive (family videos, office Party) and talking and why was it not included in the HBO doc? Also, due to the response to the “aunt diane” doc will there be a follow up (I.E. Paradise Lost 1,2,&3) film? There clearly is a demand out there. I also read Mike & Jeanie Bistardi’s book (The Taconic Tragedy) and would recemend it. I agree New York should have formed a Grand Jury on the case and compelled both Hance’s to testify. I do beleive Warren was trying to get up to the Tapanzee Bridge to make sure Diane did not continue to drive but also avoid being pulled over for a DUI + child endangerment. The truth is out there and 4 people know it (Jackie, Warren, Danny and his brother).

  • Lisa

    I would like Mr. Schuler to know that my Ex-hunsband had a severely absessed toothe which actually caused him to die in the ER where he was then rescusitated. My whole point is that fluid from his absess had gotten into all of the brain sinuses and caused some very bizzare behavior for the 36 hrs before he was revived. He actually tried to eat laundry powder thinking it was cereal, and he became sucidal, and combative. It IS possible that something like this had happened to Mrs. Schuler. We will never know the why of it, but I hope Mr. Schuler gets this information, which can be proven by medical records.

  • janicefreeman

    I am glad that I am not any one’s judge and jury. However, the situation is horrible, nonetheless. Of course she [Diane] was very wrong and she along with all those other people paid with their lives. I feel extremely saddened for the families of all those killed so senselessly,especially for the parents of the three little girls. They lost all that they had, including their sister and sister-in-law. I pray for all the victim’s familys that God will help them to keep their sanity through all this pain that they have to be experiencing.

  • kristi lundby

    I JUST WATCHED THE DOCUMENTARY AND THERE WAS A SCENE WHERE JAY WAS READING OFF THE VARIOUS MEDICATIONS DIANE WAS PRESCRIBED.I SAW AMBIEN. I AM NOT A DRINKER AND I DO NOT SMOKE POT BUT I AM OVERWEIGHT AND HAVE A HARD TIME SLEEPING…I WAS PRESCRIBED AMBIEN AND IF DIANE ACCIDENTLY TOOK THAT PILL AND GOT ON THE ROAD THEN EVERYTHING IN THE MOVIE ABOUT HER BEHAVIOR MAKES SENSE TO ME..SOMEBODY HAS TO TEST HER FOR THAT DRUG..WAS IT IN HER SYSTEM?????MY EXPERIENCE EVERYTIME I TOOK THOSE PILLS WAS ,TO SAY THE LEAST,BIZARRE..I TOOK IT BEFORE BED AND SLIGHTLY REMEMBER GETTING UP AND SLAMING MY HOLE BODY INTO THE CLOSED FRONT DOOR OF MY HOME..I WAS ALSO TOLD BY MY HUSBAND OF NUMEROUS OCCASIONS WHERE I WOULD SEEM TO HIM TO BE AWAKE BUT DOING STRANGE THINGS..EATING SPAGHETTI WITH MY HANDS..NEEDING TO PICK UP MY SON(ITS 2AM)AND TALKING TO HIM MAKING ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE..I NO LONGER TAKE THIS DRUG, ITS DANGEROUS…

  • monica nikolai

    I watched the documentary twice because it was so compelling.Daniel Schuler was in such DENIAL.Blood tests do not lie.I feel also like saying he never wanted kids was so painful since one day I am sure his son will watch that.However the worst part of this story is that one moment of bad judgement caused this horrible outcome.People with addictions hide it well.I am also shocked that anyone would sue the Hance family. They lost all 3 of their children.My heart hurts so much for them. Very happy to hear that Jackie was able to have another baby.She deserves to have a little happiness brought back in her life. God bless all the innocent victims in this.

  • elaine

    Ambien!!!!!! Someone needs to contact me asap!!! I had almost the same thing happen to me after accidently taking a new prescrip my doctor had insisted I take to help alleviate pain and help me get to sleep at night. Ambien has been known to be extremely dangerous for JUST the reason that it puts people into a comatose state while leaving them feeling fully functional!!!! And doctors continue to prescribe it not having a clue!! Just ask a party going teen why Ambien is so popular!!
    The only difference with what happened to Diane and what happened to me is that my kids were teenagers and carried me from behind the wheel and put me in the back seat. Yet I thought I was perfectly fine. I don’t even remember them carrying me. Certainly I would have protested if I had been aware. My daughter watched this docu. with me and jusmped up when the someone stated Diane had a serene look on her face. “That was you!! That was exactly how you looked!!”, she shouted to me. Someone needs to contact me!!! I will share all I know!

    • elaine

      And blood tests might not lie but Pharmaceutical Companies certainly do!!

      And the people they pay or threaten will lie too!! Would the Pharma who puts out Ambien have anything to lose if the truth got out? What do you think? Think about the lawsuits as well as the money they would lose if it was pulled… My 18 year old daughter just had a baby and her doctor tried to talk her into a scrip for Ambien even tho she said she didn’t have trouble sleeping. She was the one who had to drive us all home–so we would get there safely–the day I took Ambien. SHe told her doctor “No way!” and he just wouldn’t get it when we explained what had happened.

    • http://www.facebook.com/reecie.carillo Reecie Carillo

      yes elaine, I have said the SAME thing. When the documentary showed the part when Diane was taking Ambien, I said, well there you go. If Diane was taking Ambien that day, then I know exactly what happened. I’m not excusing her in any manner because even she should know what happens on Ambien and NEVER to take it during the day. I did so many crazy things on Ambien, I am just so glad nothing traumatic happened. AMBIEN IS A WORST THAN LSD. People are STUPID if they don’t look into this. There are only over a million stories right now , on the web, of people experiences on Ambien, and this drug is still on the market. I will share my stories too while on Ambien. You can be COMPLETELY functional and totally not present minded. I actually drove to the store which is five miles away and back and have NO memory of it what so ever. My daughter is the one who told me and she said I was going on a “safari” and left. The only reason why I know I went to the store is because I bought a DRILL. A $150.00 DRILL. I NEVER bought a drill in my life or any tool besides a hammer for that matter. I don’t know where I went before or after that, I have ZERO memory of the whole experience. I did other things as well on this drug. If Diane was on Ambien, then I already know what happened. I know for a FACT that there has got to be more tragedies out there because of Ambien and the below commenter is right. Maybe Ambien is paying them off, which would make Diane Schuler’s husband right and that the blood tests were falsified.

  • beach glass

    I have watched the doc a few times– its haunting to say the least. The family knows a hell of a lot more than they are owning.
    Diane was an alcoholic and likley dissatisfied with her life– both married and professional. Only one former co-worker spoke and I find that very odd. Cablevision may have a policy against speaking about employess but I bet she was not liked by abyone she worked with.She had a big chip on her shoulder and some anger issues to say the least. Its very telling that she dropped all her old friends when Danny came around. He comes off as a real jerk– he kept his single guy shift of nights, huh?
    He operates from a place of severe denial– his wife took Ambien and smoked pot to help her sleep?
    I am curious as to what happened the 24 hours before they left the campsite– she looks like she is wearing the same clothes as the day before. That is very out of character from what we have all heard about her. Danny stated that she drank two daquaris– really Dan?? You had vodka there not rum– was there another bottle of booze there or was someone else there drinking also.
    I think she drank on the road and that any people she encountered on the way may have noticed something about her that didn’t seem right. They didnt say anything b/c she is well was a rather imposing person. They are likley dealing with their own guilt at not call 911 when she left Mc Donalds or the gas station.
    I am amazed at how much booze was inher system that had not metabolized– she vomited twice and there was still vodka in her stomach.
    The tragedy is that these innocent people were murdered. I hope more light is shed onto this terrible and sad event.

  • Punkinpye

    You know, opinions are like…well you know the rest. Some of you have been this poor woman’s judge & jury but you have know idea of what she may have gone through. I myself have issues with abscessed teeth & I have been waiting to get them extracted. For me it has been a long process. I recently was in a pretty serious accident. I blacked out behind the wheel & crashed into a tree. I don’t remember even leaving the parking lot of the pharmacy I was @. The driver that was behind sed I pulled out in front of her with no issues, stopped @ the red light with no problem. When the light changed i pulled off and ran off the road into to trees. I had no recollection of any of that. When I got to hospital and all the testing came back, I tested for methadone a drug of which I NEVER took. In fact I never even smoked pot. Some of the test that are performed can give a false positive if u had taken an OTC (over-the-counter) drug. No one is out there saying that a good number of these tests come back with false positive. I sed all that to say this, the
    film I think really was put out to help this family not to condem them. PLEASE…and I say this from deep in my heart…until you walk a mile in someone else shoes, keep your comments to help not hinder. My prayers to all the families involved and to the Schuler family, KEEP UP THE FIGHT UNTIL YOU GET THE CLOSURE YOU NEED. These people only saw a flash of your life & have no idea of what you all are about.

  • sandra

    This also happened to a friend of mine. The day after she took ambien,she was driving and went into some type of sleep state, though she looked awake. She was driving 80 miles and hour and wouldnt stop. Her husband was in the passenger seat and had to wrestle the wheel from her. She had no recollection of anything she did from the moment she got up that morning. I wouldnt doubt it could cause someone to drink and they wouldnt even be conscious.

  • http://www.facebook.com/reecie.carillo Reecie Carillo

    This really opened my eyes. I know someone, very close, who is super mom like this and does anything she can to please her man, including driving super fast and texting while driving with kids in the car. He has unreal expectations of her and she runs around like a chicken without a head to meet those expectations. I knew it deep down and never really said anything because I wasn’t sure if I was seeing something that really wasn’t there and now this documentary has opened my eyes and now I am seriously concerned for this person and her kids.

  • Joseph DeCapua

    Eyewitness
    attorney going the same way on Thruway as Diane describes her driving
    as “aggressive” and “precise” moving from right lane to center lane and
    back again. Drunk
    drivers do not exercise “precision”.

    Eyewitness
    aged couple who encountered Diane on Thruway, then pulled into rest
    area together stated Diane “got out of her van and appeared SICK”, as if
    to puke, and on her hands and knees.

    Eyewitness
    couple who were Northbound encountered Diane driving “Southbound” and
    coming “directly at them in a straight line”. The witness stated Diane
    was
    driving, (again), in a somewhat focused straight line, and making “no
    attempt” to avoid a head on collision. This female
    witness got a look at Diane, and described her as almost “possessed”,
    and totally focused on what she was doing, EVEN THOUGH SHE WAS FLIRTING
    WITH THE POSSIBLE DEATH OF HERSELF, HER NIECE, AND HER 3 DAUGHTERS. This
    couple had to veer off of the Northbound Thruway to “avoid a deadly
    head on collision”.

    Male
    Eyewitness (with
    the heavy New York Accent) who encountered Diane driving directly at
    Him in the Northbound lanes of the Thruway called
    911, and described Diane as driving “PIN STRAIGHT” in the wrong
    direction, he repeats the description to 911 2 more times as “PIN
    STRAIGHT”, which a drunk driver is Incapable of doing. This EYEWITNESS
    ACCOUNT is consistent with the others, and very descriptive and
    powerful. The term “PIN STRAIGHT” Implies Diane was NOT DRUNK AT ALL,
    but might have been suffering some Mental/ and or Neurological Event. Stroke/ Seizure/ Psychotic Break/ Delirium/ sudden onset PTSD (cause unknown), etc. OR, some currently Undiagnosed Medical Condition.

    The MOST POWERFUL Eyewitness is the sole survivor, Diane’s Son. As he began to get older, some Adults
    mildly prodded him for some insight, and this is what he said:
    “MOMMY’S HEAD HURTS AND SHE CAN’T SEE” “MOMMY’S HEAD HURTS
    AND SHE CAN’T SEE” These words are FIRST HAND, RIGHT TO THE POINT, AND
    100% ACCURATE, as this young boy would have no reason to Lie, Embellish,
    Exaggerate, etc.

    COMMENTS/ OBSERVATIONS/ POSSIBLE CAUSES/

    1. Stroke
    2. Seizure
    3.
    Embolism
    4. Cardiac Event
    5. Chronic pain
    response
    6. Delirium
    7. State of Mind Interference
    8. Sudden Onset memory loss (where she was, who was with her, purpose)

    9. Food Poisoning (McDonalds) What did Diane eat??
    9A. Exhume Body for Independent Autopsy

    10. Biopsy Liver
    11. Biopsy Lymph Nodes
    12. Biopsy Thyroid
    13. Campground water? Bacteria in water?

    14. Compare biopsies against the Toxicology Screen(s)

    15. What kind of Toxicology Screen was Used?
    16.
    Even a panel 10 Screen will miss hundreds of substances simply
    because they were not specifically tested for (EXAMPLE: Propofol in the
    Michael Jackson case).
    17. Mental and/ or Physical problem(s) present and undetected. Behavior NOT CONSISTENT with a Sunday Morning return trip to the City from a Weekend camping trip
    with 4 Children in the Van, violates “MOTHERLY INSTINCTS”.
    18. Possible snake venom?

    MORE TO COME.

  • REB JR

    It’s absolutely Ambien… I was arrested for “Sleep- Driving”… They also took my blood for testing and never found it! It’s not detectable in their labs… only the stuff you take when you’re basically asleep and still functioning as if you are awake.

  • bignosepete@msn.com

    BULLCRAP !!!

  • bob

    App 8 years ago a 52 year old friend in Sacramento smoked pot that he did not know was laced with something….His doctor told him that caused his stroke

  • SJ

    All you people saying Abien Ambien Ambien…that’s all well and good but how do you explain the small matter of .19 blood alcohol and THC (marijuana) in her system….

    • Teresa

      Because she drank it while she was asleep. Sleep eating and drinking are very well documented.

    • veronica verkely

      It happened to me! I don’t drink at all. I took Ambien once and woke up to 3 open wine bottles as well as bizarre concoctions of maple syrup, coffeegrounds, and hotsauce. The house was trashed. I was so ill for days. At the time there weren’t as many of these stories out, so my doctor just told me never to take it again. Now there are thousands of these cases. Just Google and start reading.

  • Teresa

    Ambien! I drove at midnight in my pajamas to a local restaurant ordered food had a glass of wine. All while in a sleep state. Thank god I made it home! I only remembered when the waitress later told me what I did. They said I seemed normal except for the pajamas and that then appeared to be drunk after the one glass of wine. I never ever will take ambien again. She could have taken one in the early morning not being able to sleep. And the dosage or weather it was a cr (continued release) could have done all that sleepwalking on ambien.

  • am

    sounds like she was experiencing cluster headaches. All the symptoms she had sounds like the ones i’ve experienced. she also appears to be someone who decides to self-medicate. cluster headaches would definitely bring about the confusion to go to far.

  • Dawn

    As Kerry Kennedy takes the stand in her drugged driving case, it brought this case back to mind. Kerry mistakingly took Ambien on the morning she sideswiped a tractor trailer on 684 and continued to drive and was eventually found slumped over the wheel of her car. Until the toxicology reports came back showing Ambien in her system, she didn’t know what happened to her. Over the years I have spoken to numerous people who had very bizarre reactions to Ambien, including eating and drinking alcohol unintentionally and getting behind the wheel and driving. These people appear awake and alert but are not. The possibility that Dianne Schuler was under the influence of Ambien is very real and would explain her unconsciously drinking the vodka in her vehicle and smoking pot, things this woman would never do while driving – especially with five children in her car. Incredibly sad.

    • veronica verkely

      I totally agree! I hope someday the truth will be revealed. When I had my ambien blackout, there were weird mixtures all over the kitchen. One was a cup full of pancake syrup, hotsauce and coffee grounds. I actually must have eaten that stuff as some of the cups were half gone. I’m sure she wouldn’t have been able to recognize water from vodka in that state.

  • veronica verkely

    Ambien could have caused her to drink all that vodka too. I took ambien and woke up in the morning to find my kitchen trashed. It was beyond scary. Half eaten freakish food concoctions everywhere. A few open bottles of wine and I rarely even drink. I had zero recollection of any of it. My car keys were on the counter. I will never know if I drove the car that night, but the dome light was on! I sat there in terror praying the police weren’t going to show up to tell me I had killed someone. I really believe it was possible that Diane Schuler was another Ambien victim. Look at what just happened to the Kennedy relative. That drug is so dangerous.

  • Melissa

    I keep seeing Ambien! Ambien! Ambien! Here is how Ambien works. It is not easy to mistake Ambien for pain medication, because the size difference is incredible. Ambien are incredibly small. Ambien has an internal life cycle of about 8 hours, so if she took it 8, ten hours MAYBE before the accident, the Ambien would have shown up in the toxicology reports. Ambien is a hypnotic, so I can say this because I have a ton of experience with this drug, the possibility that this woman was driving and somewhat coherent after having an Ambien/marijuana/vodka cocktail is incredibly, pretty much impossibly low. After an hour of those three chemical compounds in her body she would have shut down long before the crash. If Ambien is something that she was taking for a long time it is just like anything else, you develop a tolerance for it. If she were using it for months or years it would put her to sleep, but most doctors won’t prescribe it for very long because it is habit forming. So if it was in her medical records from a year or two previous, chances are she wasn’t on it anymore. Diane Schuler had a BAC of .19, and even more that wasn’t even digested yet. Maybe she was looking for OTC pain meds because she was feeling crummy from the liquor she drank the night before, and when they didn’t have it she decided she needed a little hair of the dog. Either way you shake it, Ambien or not, She was suffering from a delerium induced blackout due to alcohol poisoning. She was losing control.

  • Danie

    Someone needs to look into Endogenous or Auto Brewery Syndrome as a result of intestinal disorders Candidiasis is a yeast infection which plagues the intestine when good bacteria are killed as a result of long term use of antibotics.

  • Just saying

    100% Ambien. HOWEVER! She NOT off the hook for carrying any kind of booze in the car with kids. Husband should have taken it or why not just leave it there! The reaction of Ambien would probably have knocked her out and caused a single car accident. But the Hydrocodone plus Ambien plus alcohol with THC probably leftover in her system is a deadly cocktail my friends. Husband is still at fault for not manning up and taking the booze home with him.

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