Five years after a violent wrong-way collision on the Taconic State Parkway killed eight people — including four young children — a flurry of civil lawsuits stemming from the crash have been dropped or quietly settled, with the terms sealed by a state judge.
But while the lawsuits are done, relatives of some of those killed said the unanswered questions are not.
"It's been a long five years," said Michael Bastardi Jr., whose father and brother were killed when Diane Schuler of Long Island drove her minivan head-on into their car. "I'm really honestly just disgusted the way this whole thing went. We are still being dodged by all the questions that we wanted answered."
"We just didn't get the answers we needed," said Bastardi, 55.
Bastardi and several attorneys associated with the court cases declined to discuss the cases Wednesday. But court records show that civil cases, including one filed by the Bastardi family in December 2009, had been settled by April.
The July 26, 2009, crash was one of Westchester County's most horrific. Investigators said Diane Schuler drove against traffic and struck Bastardi's car. The collision killed Schuler, her 2-year-old daughter and her three nieces — Emma Hance, 8; Alyson Hance, 7; and Katie Hance, 5. Schuler's son, Bryan, who was 5 at the time, was the only survivor.
Michael Bastardi, 81, and his 49-year-old son Guy Bastardi were killed, along with family friend Daniel Longo, 74. The three men, all from Yonkers, were on their way to a family cookout in Yorktown.
Schuler had a blood-alcohol level of 0.19, more than twice the legal limit. Traces of THC in her body suggested that she had smoked marijuana as recently as 15 minutes before the crash.
Schuler's family, including her husband, Daniel Schuler, blamed her bizarre behavior on an undefined medical condition. Daniel Schuler and his in-laws, Warren and Jackie Hance, later sued each other over the crash.
The Bastardi and Longo families pushed for prosecutors to convene a grand jury, but it never happened. Michael Bastardi Jr., who wrote a book about the experience, remains convinced that the Schuler and Hance families can provide some details to shed light on the events of that day. He hopes they will eventually be willing to sit down.
"I do hope, someday," Bastardi said, "maybe if they have a change of heart they'll reach out and we'll find out what really went on."