The Case of the Wrong Way Driver

On July 26th, Diane Schuler left Sullivan County, New York, on her way home to Long Island. Around 1:30 p.m., she entered the northbound Taconic State Parkway from an exit ramp, and proceeded to travel south. A few minutes later she collided head-on with another vehicle, killing herself and seven others.

If she was driving from Sullivan County to Long Island why did she crash there?

Investigators have since located the cell phone Mrs. Schuler used to call her brother. It was found resting on a barrier just past the toll booths on the Tappan Zee Bridge. Apparently she pulled over to make the call. Mrs. Schuler’s niece spoke to her dad. And then someone left the phone on the barrier.

Getting from the Tappan Zee Bridge to where she entered the Taconic involves a sequence of probable mistakes: taking Saw Mill Parkway north instead of I-87 or the Sprain Brook Parkway south; deciding to take the Taconic south after missing the Taconic’s junction with the Saw Mill; then entering the Taconic from an unmarked exit ramp, before seeing the signs for the entrance ramp.

But why did she turn there?

I have to wonder if she was following instructions from a computer.

The other option is that she intentionally drove north from the Tappan Zee before deciding to turn around. I think that’s less likely than computer error.

UPDATE: New York State Police have released, for some definitions of the word, the final report on this accident. The only additional detail released from the report is the speed of the vehicles. There is no mention in the press reports whether or not Mrs. Schuler’s vehicle contained a GPS device.