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There's Something Wrong with Aunt Diane

Since I first saw this years ago, I've been haunted by it. Has anyone else watched this one?

Edited by gimipizzauoldtroll.
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It was thought provoking and wrenching. Watching the intersection of grief and denial leading to more anger and more pain was fascinating.

And I never, ever want to watch it again.

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Still one of the most heart wrenching docs I've ever seen.  Very disturbing.  After all this time I think of Diane's husband with disgust.   

 

I can only hope that Diane's son is growing up in peace.

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I can only hope that Diane's son is growing up in peace.

Preferably with his aunt.

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Preferably with his aunt.

 

She was more delusional than anyone was, IMO.  I think Daniel knows his wife was drunk and high but Jo keeps pushing the issue saying there's no way.  He's awful pissed off for a man who believes his wife didn't do anything wrong.

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She was more delusional than anyone was, IMO.  I think Daniel knows his wife was drunk and high but Jo keeps pushing the issue saying there's no way.  He's awful pissed off for a man who believes his wife didn't do anything wrong.

I agree, but dad ignores the kid.

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I watched this doc twice and was filled with rage.  That woman was drunk/high and killed six people.  Danny ad his sister are living in delusionville on the river of the denial. 
 

When this happened {I live in the metro area and followed this story} all I wanted was for authorities to dg up her sorry bones and put them on trial for first degree murder. 

 

This doc filled me with rage for weeks. I TRY to be a nice person, but I actively hope she is burning in hell.  Maybe God can forgive her, but I don't think I can.

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I thought the comment from the sister in law was very telling, the one near the end where she said (and I'm paraphrasing) that the family was kind of fed up with Danny at that point because he wasn't doing anything - he worked his shift and went home and that was it.  Other family members were dealing with the son and the chores in the house.  And he never wanted children.  Diane was the responsible person in that home, the care giver and major bread winner.  She did it all, and let him slide probably just so she could say she was married with a family.  And then she medicated her pain over her mother issues and the husband issues away with the alcohol and pot.

 

It just so pains me that the son is one day going to hear all of this, if he hasn't picked up on it already, and kids are pretty astute.    

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I think there's no question that Diane caused this accident and her husband/sister in law are delusional - but I still find this story extremely spooky.  Diane was clearly able to hold her liquor and pot and maintain.  What was different that day.  Something made her snap.  And was it suicide?  Other drivers say they saw her and she wasn't weaving when driving the wrong way - she had a focused, intentional look in her eye.  This story is so creepy.  

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If Diane wanted to kill hersel, that was her business. But to take the girls with her, to aim her car straight at other motorists, that is what makes her an asshole.

Danny and the SIL are bigger assholes for not acknowledging Diane was a drunk and going the fuck away. To expend all that effort trying to disprove Diane bullshit is what made me hate them.

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 Other drivers say they saw her and she wasn't weaving when driving the wrong way - she had a focused, intentional look in her eye. 

That's one of the details that has stayed with me since I first watched that doc.

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I'm glad others are still talking about this case and I'm not the only loser, haha.  This case is so creepy to me.  The freakiest part is all of the stops Diane made, leaving her cell phone on the side of a bridge, the girls telling their mom something was wrong with Aunt Diane. I've always wondered if the brother and sister-in-law knew more about the content of those phone calls and didn't go public for whatever reason.  It wouldn't bring their children back so why go there.  It's horrible to think about what those kids must have experienced in their last few hours.  I've been around plenty of drunks and drug users and I don't think I've ever seen anybody melt down to that level.

 

Also, the final shot of her dead body was extremely sobering.  Great documentary, disturbing story.

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If I'm being honest, I think the family knows a helluva lot more than they're saying.  

The fact that Warren immediately left to go after her after getting the phone call and didn't call 911 tells me what I need to know on that front.  The guilt that man must live with must be soul crushing.  He wanted to save his sister and ended up sacrificing his kids.

 

There was also a very telling scene where Jo was smoking outside after they'd met with the world renowned medical examiner (his name escapes me at the moment) in NYC and she point blank said no one in the family even knew she smoked......hmmmmmmmmm.  Seems secret keeping and turning a blind eye was par for the course in this family.

 

It's obvious she was drunk and high, but as DrivingSideways said, she'd held onto it.  Why suddenly make the choice to kill all of them?  Did she have psychotic episodes in the past?  Bi-polar?  Off her meds?  There is something they know that they aren't saying and in the end, THAT is why the family's of the other vehicle are suing them.  Tell the truth....people are dead.  

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I'm familiar enough with the story to want to see if this is on netflix, but as awesome as these boards are, you guys are kind of talking me out of it :)   Such a tragedy all around.   Are the husband and sister in law still holding onto the denials?  Do ya'll think that has something to do with the potential liability or they just don't want to admit it to themselves?   Was there ever an update to this story? Because I really need to believe this guy didn't just abandon his son because it's easier than raising him.  Really??

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I'm familiar enough with the story to want to see if this is on netflix, but as awesome as these boards are, you guys are kind of talking me out of it :)   Such a tragedy all around.   Are the husband and sister in law still holding onto the denials?  Do ya'll think that has something to do with the potential liability or they just don't want to admit it to themselves?   Was there ever an update to this story? Because I really need to believe this guy didn't just abandon his son because it's easier than raising him.  Really??

 

As far as I know they still maintain she was not drunk or high and something else was wrong.  They claim in the movie that the reason they are fighting so hard is they don't want Brian (the son) to grow up thinking his mother was a drunk.  I dunno how liable they could've been.  I mean, I don't have friends who are frequent drinkers and drivers and I'm well above the "I hang out in bars" age.  Is it a law now that if you know someone is drunk, allow them to get into a car and they plow into some people and kill them, that you are liable for not stopping them?  Other than the laws of morality, I mean.  

Danny is still "raising" Brian....if by "raising" you mean, not allowing him to grieve or show any kind of emotion over the fact that his mother killed 8 people and scarred him for life.

 

I'd watch it if for no other reason then to see the "are these people for real?" aspect of it.  It's effing mind blowing to watch the denial.

Edited by CaughtOnTape.
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Damn.  At all of that. 

 

I don't know what I'm trying to say girl in my head there should be some way that Diane's "estate" can be found financially responsible (civil suit maybe?) if guilt were proven or admitted.  I know that can't possibly compensate for losses like this but I just can't really make sense out of any reason he wouldn't just tell the damn truth.  Because Brian may not know exactly what was wrong with mommy but he knows something.  Either she was on a kamikaze mission or stone cold blitzed or both.   To go to the effort to hide that seems so disrespectful to everyone else's memory.  Damn that dude.

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If you want my honest opinion....Danny knows damn well she was blitzed and high.  He hates her for putting him in this position and for leaving him to be responsible for Brian, a child he didn't want to begin with.  He has responsibilities now when she used to take care of everything before.

So he's doing this....as some kind of.....I dunno, keeping the demons at bay?  Because if he admitted to himself how much he hated her....shit would get real.

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Here's a theory I saw posited on another site -- Diane was possibly taking Ambien, which can cause people to do things that they have absolutely no memory of. People sometimes take Ambien and then find out later that they did all sorts of things they don't remember at all -- eating the entire contents of the fridge, going over to someone's house and saying things they don't remember, etc.  These effects could be extremely magnified if the person also drank alcohol or smoked pot while on Ambien.  Theoretically, it's possible that if Diane had taken an Ambien earlier that day, and then smoked/drank an amount that she could usually handle, it could've led her to make the bizarre, fatal decisions she made that day. 

 

I don't know how likely any of that is, but it just seems like there should be some explanation for what happened, aside from her just being drunk/high.  If she was a regular drinker, she would know how much she could handle.  And even if she drank way more than she could handle, she'd be more likely to just pass out, or maybe weave into another lane accidentally because she'd be having trouble focusing on the road.  An excess of alcohol doesn't make a person drive arrow-straight, with precise focus, the opposite way on a busy highway! It just doesn't. It would have to be an unusual combination of drugs that made her have a psychotic break or something. That, or she did it on purpose.

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But if the family could blame it on Ambien, wouldn't they have done that before the ridiculous toothache defense?  They would have been all over that after the autopsy.

 

I've had a prescription to Ambien and I think it will be illegal one day.  It gets you pretty high if you don't fall asleep, and mixed with alcohol it is a very strange sensation.

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You're right, you'd think the family would've gone for that as a possible defense if they'd thought of it, but maybe they just didn't know enough about Ambien and nobody put it together? I seem to remember them talking about how Diane had suffered from insomnia.  On the site where I originally saw this theory, someone asked if Ambien would show up in the toxicology report, and apparently if it isn't something they're looking for, it wouldn't necessarily be included in the report.  Who knows, maybe Ambien had absolutely nothing to do with this case, but I definitely think it's a potentially dangerous drug and that not enough is known about its side effects. Because it's prescribed liberally as a sleep aid, people assume it's harmless. I agree someday it'll probably be illegal or more highly regulated. 

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While the Ambien defense is nice...it doesn't take away from the fact that she was still drunk and high.  And not just a little bit.  Both were in the toxicology report.  So while Ambien may have played a small part, just as the pathologist (I think he was a pathologist) said, then explain to me why she was driving so outrageously drunk and high?  As far as I know Ambien does not elevate you to be more drunk or high than you would've been otherwise.

Edited by CaughtOnTape.
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It actually will increase levels of intoxication.  By nature of their side effects all controlled substances will.  Alone what Ambien is supposed to do is help you sleep by sending your body into light sedation.  It's pretty close to self administering prescription anesthesia so if you're one of the chosen few who can resist its magical powers lol, your night is about to get super freaky.  I saw this work on my ex.  His body resisted the sedation but hallucinations, dizziness, loss of coordination?   Oh girl.  Before I'd woken up and caught him, he'd eaten 2/3rds of the fridge contents and while leading him back to bed, I watched him walk directly into a wall, walking, talking, eyes wide open the whole time, didn't remember one bit of it the next day.  It doesn't surprise me that it's also described as a hypnotic, that's exactly what state he was in.  I say all that that whatever other stimulants are in your system kick this shit up to the next level.  But hey it says that right on the damn label so if it's just one more thing he doesn't want to deal with, Danny can still suck it.

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It actually will increase levels of intoxication.  By nature of their side effects all controlled substances will.  Alone what Ambien is supposed to do is help you sleep by sending your body into light sedation.  It's pretty close to self administering prescription anesthesia so if you're one of the chosen few who can resist its magical powers lol, your night is about to get super freaky.  I saw this work on my ex.  His body resisted the sedation but hallucinations, dizziness, loss of coordination?   Oh girl.  Before I'd woken up and caught him, he'd eaten 2/3rds of the fridge contents and while leading him back to bed, I watched him walk directly into a wall, walking, talking, eyes wide open the whole time, didn't remember one bit of it the next day.  It doesn't surprise me that it's also described as a hypnotic, that's exactly what state he was in.  I say all that that whatever other stimulants are in your system kick this shit up to the next level.  But hey it says that right on the damn label so if it's just one more thing he doesn't want to deal with, Danny can still suck it.

 

That much?  Wasn't she like 3 times over the legal limit?  And she still hadn't absorbed some of it.  

 

I'm never taking Ambien....holy shit.  LOL

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Lol, I'm no pharmacologist, and I should clarify that it may not affect the numbers per se, but more the interaction of it with existing forms of turn up.  Yikes.   If it was one of the things in her system, I'm shocked nothing happened to her before the "accident".

 

by all means, let's stay our punkasses in the melatonin lane.  ;)

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I would say, if she did take Ambien, it might explain WHY she got that drunk ... not excuse her for doing so. As CaughtOnTape said, she still hadn't even absorbed some of what was in her stomach.  If Ambien has the hypnotic effects that ZaldamoWilder explained, Diane might not have consciously realized how much she was drinking because she didn't even feel it, so she just kept drinking. It doesn't change the fact that she's still responsible, but it might sort of make more sense as to why someone would ever make those decisions and behave that way.  That's the part of this case that makes it so freaky - if it was just a sloppy drunk who couldn't see straight and swerved at the wrong time and ended up killing all those people, it would be tragic enough. But the fact that she appeared to be alert and focused yet behaving in a way that was inexplicable - that makes it something hard to wrap my brain around.

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The family just doesn't want to accept that she was a high-functioning closet alcoholic and they're looking for any lead they can find to preserve her memory as they believe she was. Cognitive dissonance is off the charts. I don't buy the ambien theory.

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What was different that day.  Something made her snap.  And was it suicide?  Other drivers say they saw her and she wasn't weaving when driving the wrong way - she had a focused, intentional look in her eye.  This story is so creepy.

 

 

Watched it for the second time the other day and still can't figure it out. I know tons of people who drive stoned with no effects, and she was used to smoking. The equivalent of 10 drinks in one morning just doesn't make sense. The motivation will remain a mystery forever.

 

IIRC, Ambien was on the list of meds she had been prescribed in the past. I used to have a script, and would take it and stay awake. I loved it but it made me binge eat, so I quit. But I'd never, ever drive on that shit, the same way I wouldn't drive on anything that makes you high. Ambien in the morning makes no sense either. What the hell happened?*

 

*And PS to her husband and SIL, no an abcessed tooth four years ago did not cause this.

Edited by missy jo.
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I just finished watching this.  I get really irritated with things that simply can't and won't ever be solved.  It's in my nature - there needs to be a reason.  There needs to be an answer, but there never will be in this one.

 

My unvarnished and un-scientific opinion is that this was a suicide.  For some unexplicable reason, she killed herself, and took all the kids with her.  Maybe it was to punish someone (her husband or brother?).  Maybe she felt they wouldn't be treated well or be cared for without her.  Maybe she thought they'd go to heaven and not be in this world anymore for any number of reasons.  She wouldn't be the first, and won't be the last to do something like that.  I think she got drunk and high to push her through to actually do it.  I think she drove around for so long because she needed to rationalize things.  The fact that she called her brother and then left her phone behind so no one could reach her showed purpose, and that her brother won't talk about it is telling.

 

I'm not confident Ambien had anything to do with it.  No one could say for sure she had been taking it at that time, so I'm less inclined to believe it.  I found the mention of "hydrocodone" more telling than Ambien.  I know Ambien can make you do weird things if you don't sleep.  I took it when we had found out we were losing our rental home (landlord wanted to sell and gave us very little notice) and I didn't sleep that night (I took it to help me sleep, but my anxiety overtook it).  I went to work at 5am, and was almost buzzing, and then had a full-blown panic attack during the day - it was horrible.  Thankfully I only lived 2 minutes away at the time, and went home and went to bed.  But still, I'm not convinced that's what happened with Diane.  It could explain some, but not all of it.

 

Her husband is a piece of crap.  I found him to be very cold, and unemotional.  Taking care of your son is boring?  It was Diane's job to take care of the kids you didn't want?  The single dad life is getting you down?  Boo-freaking-hoo.  I sometimes wonder if his unrelenting need to prove her innocence is directly tied to him getting money.  Some life insurance policies will not pay out of the death was a suicide, or the person died in the commission of a crime, or doing something else illegal.  And there's enough grey area there to hold up any kind of payment.

 

I read an article that surmised that he was having an affair, and said that he had a habit of lying.  He was in a separate vehicle because he told her he was going up the night before to set up for camp, but really only went up a few hours before she arrived the next day.  So where was he?  Apparenly the EZ Pass records corroborate this.  The article also surmised that they had a big fight that morning, and she went over the edge.  Apparently - although I don't know their source - they were on the verge of divorce.  That article supposes that perhaps she received some sort of abuse after her mother left, but has nothing to substantiate it.  That perhaps she was angry with her brother over that.  It also mentions that the campground they were at is a known boozy/party place.  I can't back any of that up or say how true it is, but it brought up some good points.

 

I would like to know if taking the nieces along on outings without their parents was common, or out of the ordinary.  There were happy photos from that weekend, which again points me toward suicide.  Everything just puts me right back there.  If she was a blackout drunk, I couldn't see her doing what she did.  Not driving straight as a pin up the road with no veering.  She had purpose.  My husband had a nervous breakdown once.  I was upset that his job sent him home without calling me - they let him drive.  He said after he left, he felt lucid and sure that he wanted to die, and swerved into the opposite lane once or twice, but stopped himself because he was afraid that he'd kill someone else, but just injure himself, and if he survived, he'd have to live with that.  But if he had been drunk or high, who knows if he could have had that presence of mind to say "No, I'm not going to do this because there are consequences".

 

Just sad all the way around.  If you want to kill yourself, fine.  But for the love of Pete....don't take anyone else with you.  Seriously.

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Here's what I think.  I think the woman had been hiding her alcohol/drug use for years.  She fooled everybody because she was high functioning.  There are many, many high functioning alcoholics and drug addicts, you can be that way for months, years, even decades.  People just don't know about them because the image we have of drug addicts and alcoholics is a person on skid row; in actuality that's the end stage of it.  Many of those people where themselves high functioning  but lost it all at the end stage.  

 

What happens is that one day you just hit a wall.  See you need more and more alcohol, more and more pot or drugs to feel normal.  The problem is, you never know what will happen when you drink or take those drugs.  You might be fine, or you might go into a blackout.  To me, it sounded like Diane had completely blacked out, blacked out, not passed out.  Blackouts are scary because to the outside world, you appear fine, normal, but to people who know you, something seems off.  It's like you disassociate.  You, have no idea what you're doing, it's as if another person has taken over your body and might do things that you wouldn't do, you don't give a shit because you aren't you, if that makes sense.  I've known blackout drunks to have sex with strangers, get into fights, pull guns on people.  I once knew a man who was framed for murder; it turned out he didn't do it but he really wasn't 100% sure at first.    I think in her mind, she was trying to go someplace and had lost all sense of, "I'm driving on the wrong side of the highway"

Edited by Neurochick.
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I only watched the documentary a few days ago, although I had read about it and the accident for several years. It stays with you, doesn't it? All the questions that will never, ever be answered. I was not familiar with New York state, so I was surprised at how rural the accident location is. I always visualized the usual big city spaghetti of intersecting highways where getting on the wrong ramp unintentionally seems more likely. I am also very surprised that in the 4 hours she was driving around (or say 3 hours after the McDonald's stop) the kids apparently never needed to take a bathroom break, although she stopped at several places including a highway rest area and a gas station. (At least, no one saw anything except Diane throwing up in the rest area and you can see what happens at the gas station from the video.)  I can't imagine being in pain, maybe wanting fast-acting gel caps but then not settling for the regular aspirin or Tylenol that the gas station mart had to have. I can't imagine using alcohol as a reasonable alternative, especially when you are driving, and with 5 kids.

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I recently watched this and I agree with funky-rat. I think this was a suicide. The documentary was good, but I felt like I walked away not knowing who Diane was. Her family and friends that talked about her were very surface. IMO they didn't give any real insight into who she was and I think that was on purpose. There is a lot more to this situation and what led up to it than meets the eye and the family is just not ready to reveal it all, for many reasons, one of which I'm sure is the impending lawsuits. I hope that the young son that survived is somehow able to rise above all of the anger and denial of his father and have a happy, healthy life. That's all you can ask for at this point.

Edited by Enero.
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I've watched this documentary twice, also. It was heart-wrenching. As a long-term migraine and headache sufferer, the first thing that struck me was, if you can't get "headache medicine" at the gas station, the last thing you would reach for is the liquor. That's only going to make things miserably worse. I can't imagine what was going on in Diane's mind, but it doesn't add up.

 

How terrifying for those young children in the car with Diane. And, of course, the innocent victims traveling in the other car. I tend to agree that this will probably be one of those "unsolved mysteries", though I also believe that Diane's husband and several of her family members know a lot more than they let on in the documentary: both about what happened prior to her getting into the car that day, and Diane's life in general.

Diane's husband in particular did not come off as a very sympathetic character. You want to feel sorry for him. He's a widower, with a young (injured) son to support. Perhaps I'm unfairly judging him but he seemed to do little more than a woe-is-me routine. There seemed to be little sympathy for anyone else. The sister in law appeared to be in deep denial. These two could have given the many victims some closure by admitting a basic fact of this case: Diane had a blood alcohol content well over the legal limit. This was verified by an independent source. I don't blame the victims families for being very angry.

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I recently watched this and I agree with funky-rat. I think this was a suicide. The documentary was good, but I felt like I walked away not knowing who Diane was. Her family and friends that talked about her were very surface. IMO they didn't give any real insight into who she was and I think that was on purpose. There is a lot more to this situation and what led up to it than meets the eye and the family is just not ready to reveal it all, for many reasons, one of which I'm sure is the impending lawsuits. I hope that the young son that survived is somehow able to rise above all of the anger and denial of his father and have a happy, healthy life. That's all you can ask for at this point.

I think that showed that Diane was so good at compartmentalizing and minimizing that no one had a full picture of who she was.

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I  read that all the lawsuits have been settled or dismissed, however it's possible that the settlements require the parties not to speak about the accident.

 

One thing I never understood was why Diane's husband didn't try to get a day shift after he was left with his son to care for. He seemed to be more put out by the whole thing than actually grieving. Also, no one really seemed to miss Erin, the 2yo daughter very much, she hardly got mentioned.

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My feeling was that one reason the family has remained in such steadfast denial had to do with insurane payouts.  Many policies don't pay out if a death occurred during the commission of a crime (DUI) or if it was suicide.  If they fill in the blanks, then they might lose some sort of payout, and even if that's already occured, it could be alleged that they committed fraud by lying.

 

At least people can calmly discuss here - I gave up over at the IMDB board - people there are REALLY into their opinions and tend to slam anything that isn't what their view is.  The suicide opinion isn't popular there - Ambien seems to be the pervasive opinion.  I disagree.  Does anyone think that the opportunistic family, desparate for ANY reason to draw attention away wouldn't be all over that?  Especially after the Kennedy incident. 

 

Halfway through the doc, I felt it was suicide, and I've stuck with it.  There is soemthing in the relationship with her mother that may very well have something to do with it.  I've read that she was the only one who didn't have anything to do with her - that all of her brothers had a relationship with their mother.  It was in the doc very clear that she cut off all of her "old life" friends when she met Danny.  Whether she did that willingly (of her own choice) or not (as in Danny wanted her isolated), it speaks volumes about her personality.

She wanted to be a mom, and she got that with Danny, who couldn't seem to function on his own.  And I'm sure that when she had the kids, he told her it was her domain, and hers to deal with.  I've wondered if she got pregnant on purpose - that was never really touched on.  She apparently has this goal of getting a husband and kids, and having it all.  And she gets that. And perhaps sees that it's not all that it's cracked up to be.  She spends a lot of time alone, since her husband has a night job, and seems to be doing all of the work herself.  She self-medicates.  She channels all of her frustration toward work (where it's been said that she was fierce, and working in collections - as I have done - you have to have that type of personality, so I'm not shocked she succeeded).  But as I went through with my husband, you can only stuff things for so long.

My husband was physically and mentally abused as a child, and into his teens.  His father died when he was 9, and his mother unleashed her rage on him.  But his mom wanted people to think they were a perfect family.  So he channeled his issues into the bottle.  He was an alcoholic by the time he was 18.  Four years into our marriage, he was a full-blown binge drinker.  He'd go a month without touching a drop, but in one weekend, he'd down several bottles and a case of beer.  He'd drink until he'd vomit, and then start all over again.  And people thought he was funny and would take advantage of him.  They'd get him drunk to "watch the show".  And I'd sit by, and watch this, because I didn't trust to leave him somewhere.  I stayed sober, drove him home, walked him to the bathroom, and stayed up all night to be sure he didn't choke.  And I found myself putting up this brave front, acting like we were the perfect couple.  The difference is that we both had supportive friends and family who were willing to step up and tell us that we needed therapy.  We went, he quit drinking, and he got involved in an activity that channeled his issues in a positive way.  And all was well.  For a few years.

Rather quickly, he was dealt several blows.  He left a job that was established at to go to one he was recruited for that turned out to be a joke.  He was lied to.  So he tried another job, and was laid off in 6 months when the company was sold. He went back to the company that lied to him, tail between his legs.  They messed with him.  They were supposedly religious, and preached love, but they were anything but.  They were filling his head with ideas.  Then, the activity he loved was yanked away from him.  I can't go into it - too long - but in the end it boiled down to people telling him that they believed him over someone causing trouble, but there were reasons that they couldn't make waves, and couldn't back him.  He came to me and said he felt like he needed therapy again.  I got him on a waiting list for evenings, but he asked for some time off to go during the day to get it started.  They told him that he didn't need therapy - he needed Jesus.  Going to church was required to work there.  He kept all of this from me (except for the activity getting taken away - he couldn't hide that).  One day, his boss called me at my job and told me that he was fired because he told another employee to get away from him before he snapped and did something he'd regret (the other employee grabbed his arm - my husband was trying to walk away from him). My husband showed up at my job, freaking out.  He'd had a nervous breakdown.  His employer allowed him to drive.  He seriously considered killing himself by driving into oncoming traffic, but he was afraid he'd live but kill someone else, and couldn't do it.  He was very good at hiding this from me.  When I asked him why, he said he was afraid I'd leave him and his world would fall apart.

I could see something similar happing to Diane.  Something made her world fall apart.  Danny is all kinds of shady.  Maybe he was fooling around on her.  He was also a drinker - he has a DUI.  Who knows?  But I couldn't see her going to therapy, with or without him.  Even if he were compliant, it would be a ding on her perfect image.  Or maybe she'd be like my late Mother In Law, who swore off therapy because too many doctors wouldn't tell her what she wanted to hear - that she was perfect and never did anything wrong.  As for what pushed her over the edge?  We'll probably never know.  But so much of her story was so familiar to me - been there, done that.  We never had children - I am unable.  When we got the news, my late Mother In Law advised my husband to leave me, and find someone who could provide her with grandkids, but she knew he probably wouldn't, because he took his wedding vows too seriously, and was too foolish to find someone else.

 

I believe she was trying to send a message, and to punish a person or people.  I would love to know if it was "normal" for them to take the nieces on outings, or if that was unusual, or whether this was a spur-of-the-moment thing, or planned out ahead.  She gets the girls, borrows a van, and takes them camping.  She takes lots of photos of them having fun.  When they leave, she takes them to McDonald's instead of feeding them cereal or making breakfast at the campground.  She insists on giving her son his favorite meal, even though it's not time for the lunch menu.  It's debated whether she was insistant and rude, or calm but persistant - there are conflicting reports.  But it's not debated that the kids played, and she sat and drank an orange juice (probably spiked with vodka).  So the kids have a happy wrap-up to their happy weekend.  And then it goes to hell.  And fast.

I believe she kept drinking and driving around to work up the nerve.  I believe her conscience kept kicking in (as my husband's did when he had his breakdown) and she had to keep killing that.  I am not sure why she stopped at the convenience store (other than her weird Gel Cap story) - what her motivation was.  Maybe she was hoping someone would stop her or send her a signal that she should stop, but the clerk appeared pretty indifferent.  That's something we'll never know.  I don't think she planned on the kids calling home, and she quickly covered with "They're playing".  Somewhere along the line, she got drunk and high enough that she killed her conscience, and pushed on through with it.

That's just my opinion.  I immediately thought of the Diane Downs case when I watched the doc.  She attempted to kill her 3 children (but claimed they were shot by a drifter) because a man she was in love with broke it off with her, telling her it was because he didn't want children.  She planned a fun day with them, doing their favorite things and even went so far as to have a statue made with the date she intended to kill them on it, but she didn't do it that day - it ended up being a few days later.  Two of her kids lived, however, and told police she was the one who did it.  We have a survivor in this case, but at least now, he can't say much.  Maybe someday, it will all come out, but I'm hot holding my breath.

Sorry for being long-winded.  This one just really bothered me, and still haunts me.

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I have a relative who took Ambien while at the beach to get high and when she came to she was in her car in a mall parking lot 10 miles away.  She had driven from La Jolla to Mission Valley, which requires traversing a major freeway interchange in the middle of a weekday.  No memory of it whatsoever.  Scared the crap out of her. She never took it again.

Having said that, I think it was suicide and, IMHO, like a lot of suicides, incredibly selfish.

Edited by savannah1985. Reason: Spelling
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On 6/26/2015 at 4:24 PM, DrivingSideways said:

I think there's no question that Diane caused this accident and her husband/sister in law are delusional - but I still find this story extremely spooky.  Diane was clearly able to hold her liquor and pot and maintain.  What was different that day.  Something made her snap.  And was it suicide?  Other drivers say they saw her and she wasn't weaving when driving the wrong way - she had a focused, intentional look in her eye.  This story is so creepy.  

 

On 6/28/2015 at 10:46 PM, DrivingSideways said:

I'm glad others are still talking about this case and I'm not the only loser, haha.  This case is so creepy to me.  The freakiest part is all of the stops Diane made, leaving her cell phone on the side of a bridge, the girls telling their mom something was wrong with Aunt Diane. I've always wondered if the brother and sister-in-law knew more about the content of those phone calls and didn't go public for whatever reason.

 

On 6/29/2015 at 9:08 AM, CaughtOnTape said:

There was also a very telling scene where Jo was smoking outside after they'd met with the world renowned medical examiner (his name escapes me at the moment) in NYC and she point blank said no one in the family even knew she smoked......hmmmmmmmmm.  Seems secret keeping and turning a blind eye was par for the course in this family.

It's obvious she was drunk and high, but as DrivingSideways said, she'd held onto it.  Why suddenly make the choice to kill all of them?  Did she have psychotic episodes in the past?  Bi-polar?  Off her meds?  There is something they know that they aren't saying and in the end, THAT is why the family's of the other vehicle are suing them.  Tell the truth....people are dead.  

 

On 7/2/2015 at 2:31 PM, iggysaurus said:

I don't know how likely any of that is, but it just seems like there should be some explanation for what happened, aside from her just being drunk/high.  If she was a regular drinker, she would know how much she could handle.  And even if she drank way more than she could handle, she'd be more likely to just pass out, or maybe weave into another lane accidentally because she'd be having trouble focusing on the road.  An excess of alcohol doesn't make a person drive arrow-straight, with precise focus, the opposite way on a busy highway! It just doesn't. It would have to be an unusual combination of drugs that made her have a psychotic break or something. That, or she did it on purpose.

I know that this is a fairly old movie, and I am responding to some very old replies!  BUT - after watching the documentary and reading the sister-in-law's book (very sad), I think I know what happened.

Diane was obvioiusly a heavy user of pot and alcohol, and this was a secret to the family.  I believe she was also having an affair, but was very good at keeping that a secret as well.  I think that she was upset with her husband, as they had a fight that morning, and she was out to get drunk and high.  Then, she makes that phone call on the road... which is only for a brief amount of time, but that was when she put the phone on the side of the road and lost her mind.  That phone call made her snap.

I know that they claim that the person on the other end of the phone didn't know her, but it was a weird coincidence that the man lived a short distance from her work.  I believe she was having an affair with that man, but she kept it so secret that there was no proof of it anywhere.  I am betting she had another phone, a throw-away that she used to call him normally, and maybe this was the first time she called him from her "real" phone.  We know she is good at keeping secrets!

He probably had broken things off with her, or did something that made her go over the edge.  Of course the man will not come forward, his wife probably doesn't know and I am sure he would rather have a mystery surrounding the deaths of innocent people than come forward and lose his marriage.  And I really don't blame him, he didn't drive into traffic.  

I wonder if the police showed up at his house, asked about the phone call and believed his claim he didn't know her.  Why not follow up on that more?

And last note - the picture of her, dead with her clothes torn and her dead eyes going different directions gives me the chills.

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On ‎5‎/‎5‎/‎2017 at 1:12 PM, heatherchandler said:

Diane was obvioiusly a heavy user of pot and alcohol, and this was a secret to the family.  I believe she was also having an affair, but was very good at keeping that a secret as well.  I think that she was upset with her husband, as they had a fight that morning, and she was out to get drunk and high.  Then, she makes that phone call on the road... which is only for a brief amount of time, but that was when she put the phone on the side of the road and lost her mind.  That phone call made her snap.

I know that they claim that the person on the other end of the phone didn't know her, but it was a weird coincidence that the man lived a short distance from her work.  I believe she was having an affair with that man, but she kept it so secret that there was no proof of it anywhere.  I am betting she had another phone, a throw-away that she used to call him normally, and maybe this was the first time she called him from her "real" phone.  We know she is good at keeping secrets!

He probably had broken things off with her, or did something that made her go over the edge.  Of course the man will not come forward, his wife probably doesn't know and I am sure he would rather have a mystery surrounding the deaths of innocent people than come forward and lose his marriage.  And I really don't blame him, he didn't drive into traffic.  

I wonder if the police showed up at his house, asked about the phone call and believed his claim he didn't know her.  Why not follow up on that more?

And last note - the picture of her, dead with her clothes torn and her dead eyes going different directions gives me the chills.

Interesting.  I always figured him for the affair.  He had days to himself without her or the kids, and they know he lied when he told her he was going to camp alone one day ahead, and the EZ Pass proved that he got there just a few hours before she did the next day.  But the same thing could go for her.  I just never thought that way, but it's entirely possible.

Edited by funky-rat.
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1 hour ago, funky-rat said:

Interesting.  I always figured him for the affair.  He had days to himself without her or the kids, and they know he lied when he told her he was going to camp alone one day ahead, and the EZ Pass proved that he got there just a few hours before she did the next day.  But the same thing could go for her.  I just never thought that way, but it's entirely possible.

I'm thinking they were both cheating.  I think she was really good at keeping it a total, complete secret.

It just seems to fit - when you look at the timeline and realize that the "wrong number" was the point in time when she snapped.

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So I was rewatching this a couple of days ago.   By the time she goes into the gas station convenience store looking for the gel caps, she has the equivalent of 10 drinks in her system? right?  Ya'll, why isn't anything obviously wrong with her gait?  The toxicologist stated that they not only did a blood test but measured content by alcohol weight.  Is the contention that she got drunk after that?  Because whether you're a teetotaler or somebody who gets naked wasted, if 10 shots have made it to your bloodstream, your steps should be unsteady.

I'm struggling a little with the impression of her being suicidal.  Only because that would mean she'd also have to be homicidal and I might be trying to make sense outta crazy but why stop to feed children you're about to kill?  Is the assertion there that it was a split second decision?

The way the taconic parkway witnesses who narrowly avoided her describe it is chilling.  She sounds like the main character of a Dean Koontz novel.   They made her sound like she was catatonic - the no blinking, no flinching, super aggressive but never veering off course thing sounds more like a fugue state than brass balls.   

And then I come back to her brother and sister and law who have not spoken about it since.  Their inability to come to her defense seems like some sad and quiet resignation that this was in fact deliberate.

I don't know.  I'm still super bothered.

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I'll forever be bothered, and because we'll never have answers, that just makes it worse.

I've seen a number of suicide cases over the years where someone took others with them or just out and out homicide where the perpetrator lived, and in a number of them they made sure they had one last outing, one last "happy" weekend, one last trip to a favorite place, etc.  It caught me when they went out of their way to talk about McDonald's.  How she took the kids there to play and was insistent that her son have his favorite meal, even though it wasn't lunch time yet.  Maybe she was trying to punish someone.  Maybe she was of the mindset that no one could care for the kids like her, and she was ready to go.  Maybe she felt that the world was evil and they belonged in Heaven (that's been used before).  The only thing I really wanted to hear from the brother was if Diane taking their kids for the weekend on trips was normal, or if it was unusual, and if it was planned in advance, or was a spur of the moment thing.  It wouldn't answer all of the questions, but could push something in a direction.

As for the gas station footage, I can't explain her ability to walk straight unless she was such a hardcore drinker that she could hold that much (some people can).  If you watch the "original" gas station footage, you'll see how fast she sped out of there, and drove in to oncoming traffic, almost causing an accident.  That footage was slowed down for the doc.  You can find it on YouTube.

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I just watched this the other day. As some others have said, I also found it deeply disturbing, heart-breaking and have had difficulty getting it out of my mind. I Googled the case and found a website with a bunch of comments from people. There were multiple theories including the suicide-murder and Ambien.

I don't think she took Ambien because it wasn't mentioned in the toxicology report, and as another poster said, it seems like this would have been pounced on by the husband and sister-in-law. I was astounded by the level of denial both of them showed, although after reading these comments now I'm wondering if they were just flat-out lying. The sister-in-law did say that Diane smoked pot, although she downplayed it. 

Even if Diane was a closet, high-functioning alcoholic, I find it hard to believe that the husband was completely oblivious to any signs of her alcohol abuse. There would have been so many opportunities for him to see her just after she drank or smell alcohol on her breath, perhaps find a hidden bottle, see her drink too much at a party or dinner, etc. He also may have heard others talking about her drinking or voicing concerns. 

I also noticed that he started out emphatically stating that she didn't drink at all and then later implied she did occasionally when they had daiquiris or whatever while camping. I believe there was another comment when he said she drank once a month or something like that. So how did it go from absolutely no drinking to drinking once or twice a year while camping to once a month? It strains credibility and makes me suspicious of everything else he said. 

I understand why the parents of the three girls did not want to be interviewed, but I wish I could hear their perspective. Did they know she was a drinker? If not, why did the husband tell Diane to wait and he would come get her when she called and was disoriented? That seems like something you'd say if you had done it before, not when you had just found out and were horrified that a closet drunk had your children in the car. I wonder if they are still on speaking terms with Diane's husband.

I was surprised they showed her dead body. I thought it was a poor choice, because up until that point the documentary makers had not really editorialized or at least not in an obvious way. It was pretty matter-of-factly presented, but when they showed her dead body and not the others, it struck me as a "here's the villain" moment. I am not defending her as I am horrified by what she did. I was just surprised by the creative choice of the producers. 

P.S. As to why she wasn't swaying in the convenience stores video, I have known a number of alcoholics who could consume large quanitiies of alcohol and still walk normally. I think it's an issue of tolerance. 

Edited by Sweet-tea. Reason: Typos
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2 hours ago, Sweet-tea said:

There were multiple theories including the suicide-murder and Ambien....

I don't think she took Ambien because it wasn't mentioned in the toxicology report....

Did the coroner test specifically for Ambien?

In 2011 Diane's husband, Daniel, sued New York State (blamed the crash on the road) and his brother-n-law (Diane had borrowed his supposedly defective car).  http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/07/26/report-widower-sues-state-after-tragic-wrong-way-crash-on-taconic-parkway/   So I think it's fair to say that the husband has to be one sick and twisted individual to sue the very man whose 3 daughters died in the crash that occurred while his own wife was behind the wheel.

So sick in fact that I began to wonder if Diane's  husband had slipped her an Ambien before she hit the road. With Ambien a person's mind can fall asleep while their body appears to be functioning as if they were awake. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/15/ambien-side-effect-sleepwalking-sleep-aid_n_4589743.html  This side effect can be abrupt in its appearance. It would explain how Diane went from appearing sober to driving in a completely irrational manner. Plus the husband is the one who said he didn't want children. It's rare but not unheard of for a man to kill (or try to kill) both a spouse and a child both to avoid responsibility and to appear like the victim.

Going on Reddit and Web Sleuth requires a commitment to reading that I'm not ready for. I'm already getting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from scrolling this site. LOL  So my question is this: has anyone else theorized that the husband was directly involved? Or do I just watch too much true crime on TV?

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I've been haunted by this case too.

The only conclusion I can come to is that she was just fed up.with her life.

Her marriage wasn't what she thought it should be, but she couldn't leave. Her unyielding anger at her own mom for leaving the family when Diane was young, she couldn't do the same to her kids, because it would make her as bad as her mom..Sure, killing every one was extreme but how many moms and dads kill their kids along with themselves, the explanation that they are better off dead, than living without the parent. She knew her husband didn't really want the kids, so she couldnt.leave them with him

I think the nieces were just collateral damage, just happening to be there on the day she got the nerve to.do it

 

Why THAT day? Once again her hubby leaves her to clean up  the campsite, load up the car, and wrangle all the kids home. HE heads off, his contribution to the morning chores? He takes the DOG with him.

When the niece called her dad and he spoke to.Diane. I think he knew the state she,was in and told her to sit tight,  wait for him, maybe called her on being drunk. She snapped, left the phone so the kids couldn't call anyone and set out to end it all.

The reaction of the brother, to call the state troopers was extreme if he DIDN'T know or suspect she was drunk. It wasn't that far a distance, he and her husband  could easily have driven up.to get her if it was just her being ill.

Too many secrets, too.much stuff swept under the carpet.

She had no real friends, her co workers were very careful.about what they said, but did say that she was a perfectionist and could be difficult if things at work didn't go.smoothly.

The only conclusion I can find that makes sense, is that it was deliberate.

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When I watched this I got a strong impression that Daniel was kind of bummed that one kid survived and he was stuck with him. 

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For anyone wanting to read more about this, and doesn't mind a terribly sad read- I recommend Jackie Hance's (Diane's sister-in-law, mother of the 3 girls) book: "I'll See You Again."  Very in-depth and personal.

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13 hours ago, Mannahatta said:

So my question is this: has anyone else theorized that the husband was directly involved?

I don't think he was directly involved, but indirectly? Yes. I think he knew she was drunk/drinking and let her drive anyway because he just didn't care. If he admitted to knowing that, it's likely he'd open himself up to possible criminal -- and more than likely civil -- prosecution. 

Frankly, I think they all knew.

What troubles me most is that the gas station/quik-e-mart cashier refused all requests for police interviews.  (That was noted in the police report [which is available online] but wasn't mentioned in the doc.)

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14 hours ago, heatherchandler said:

For anyone wanting to read more about this, and doesn't mind a terribly sad read- I recommend Jackie Hance's (Diane's sister-in-law, mother of the 3 girls) book: "I'll See You Again."  Very in-depth and personal.

Sad, yes, But I still think there was a lot left unsaid. Maybe guilt, cause she knew or suspected Diane had a drinking problem and let her kids go with her anyway, probably thinking that she wouldn't get soused early in the morning.

I don't believe for a minute that they had the same vodka bottle for months, that she only had a drink occasionally while camping.  I have a bottle of vodka in the cabinet at home.. it's half full, has been for over a year. Even if I were going on a camping trip, I wouldn't bring an open container of booze. I'd get something locally, plenty of liquor stores there.  I"ve forgotten some of the timeline, the Quik mart, and the timing of her visit. Was she looking to get more alcohol? It was a Sunday, perhaps it was too early to sell liquor there? (In my area you can't purchase it before noon on Sunday). Maybe the clerk realized she was drunk and once he learned about the accident, decided to keep his mouth shut to avoid getting  dragged into a tragedy and possibly named in a lawsuit.  But if he refused to be interviewed, how did they know she was looking for Tylenol?

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I believe the Ambien has been largely discarded.  People like to throw it around, but that opportunistic family would have been all over it if they thought they could have used it to tie this up in a bow.  Same with the private investigators they hired, etc.  Instead, it's casually mentioned when they're again going through her medical records that she had once been prescribed it.  That tells me that they either  tried to use it once before and failed, or they did test for it, and found nothing.  There was a high profile Ambien case in New York that made national news - they would have been all over it if they could have used it.  Believe that.

I, like others, believed that was her day to snap, or the day she finally worked up the "nerve".

The gas station clerk could have been advised by his employer, or an attorney, etc, to not give an interview because of a fear they could have been held accountable for something.  Not sure how the rules in NY are, but where I live, if you see a Visibly Intoxicated Person and either continue to serve them alcohol, or you allow them to leave and get into a car, you could be held partially responsible for anything bad they do, and open yourself up to all manners of lawsuits.

I don't think her husband tried to off her.  He's a moron.  And a lousy liar.  And there would have been too much risk that she'd end up incapacitated, and he'd be responsible for her and/or the kids, and you see how he handles having to take care of just one kid.  He can't function without his sister doing most of the adulting for him.  I just wish one person from her past would step-up and spill on the weird dynamic with her mom, or what was going on at her job, etc.  Instead, all they say is that once she met her husband, she cut everyone in her old life out.  There's more to that story.

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12 minutes ago, iwasish said:

Sad, yes, But I still think there was a lot left unsaid. Maybe guilt, cause she knew or suspected Diane had a drinking problem and let her kids go with her anyway, probably thinking that she wouldn't get soused early in the morning.

I don't believe for a minute that they had the same vodka bottle for months, that she only had a drink occasionally while camping.  I have a bottle of vodka in the cabinet at home.. it's half full, has been for over a year. Even if I were going on a camping trip, I wouldn't bring an open container of booze. I'd get something locally, plenty of liquor stores there.  I"ve forgotten some of the timeline, the Quik mart, and the timing of her visit. Was she looking to get more alcohol? It was a Sunday, perhaps it was too early to sell liquor there? (In my area you can't purchase it before noon on Sunday). Maybe the clerk realized she was drunk and once he learned about the accident, decided to keep his mouth shut to avoid getting  dragged into a tragedy and possibly named in a lawsuit.  But if he refused to be interviewed, how did they know she was looking for Tylenol?

I thought I recalled reading somewhere once that the clerk (or someone at the store) said she was asking specifically for Tylenol GelCaps, and they didn't sell those.  Can't remember who he said that to.  It would have had to be someone at the store because the surveillance footage is silent.  So he had to have said something once.  That whole thing was just weird too - the footage looks like she walks in, doesn't even really look for anything, and walks right back out.  I thought maybe she was losing her nerve, and stopped there hoping someone would say something, or stop her.  She didn't appear to be looking for booze.  Not sure if the store even sold it.  The clerk looked indifferent, and she lit out of the parking lot in a hurry.

There are conflicting reports from the McDonald's people too.  Some said she was pushy and unfriendly.  Others said she was calm, but insistent with regard to getting lunch food on the breakfast hour.  In the end, they gave her what she wanted.

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