Video: Fla. trooper crashes head-on with drunk driver to protect road race

Trooper Toni Schuck prevented tragedy by selflessly putting herself in harm's way, police said


By Michaela Mulligan
Tampa Bay Times

PALMETTO, Fla. — A woman crashed into a Florida Highway Patrol vehicle Sunday morning after failing to stop for multiple road closure signs in place for the Skyway 10K race, troopers said.

Kristen Kay Watts, 52, from Sarasota, was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence resulting in serious injury after she drove onto a portion of northbound Interstate 275 that was closed for the Skyway 10K race and crashed nearly head-on into a trooper’s SUV, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

[MORE: 'I was the last officer': Trooper shares how she hit drunk driver to protect 10K race]

Watts was driving a 2011 BMW 335i north on Interstate 275 at a high rate of speed about 8:45 a.m. Sunday when she approached a road closure for the race and failed to detour onto U.S. 41 as directed, troopers said. Instead, Watts drove through multiple traffic cones and other barricades with state officers present. Officers tried to pull over Watts but she continued driving north, troopers said.

Watts then came upon two Florida Fish and Wildlife officers guarding the northbound toll plaza and failed to stop. Two Florida Highway Patrol troopers in separate vehicles drove south in the northbound lane to intercept Watts and protect the thousands of race participants still on foot on the Sunshine Skyway bridge. Both patrol vehicles stopped. Within moments, Watts collided nearly head-on with one of them, a marked 2019 Chevy Tahoe.

The Highway Patrol on Monday released dramatic dashcam video showing the crash, which is below.

The crashed caused serious injuries to Watts and the trooper behind the wheel of the Tahoe, Toni Schuck, 47. Watts and Schuck were taken to nearby hospitals.

Schuck has worked for the Florida Highway patrol for 26 years.

“The FHP acknowledges and expresses our appreciation to the many that have expressed their gratitude for the trooper’s selfless actions,” the Florida Highway Patrol said in a media release Monday.

Watts was also charged with two counts of driving under the influence resulting in property damage and two counts of reckless driving involving injury and property damage. Watts was taken to the Manatee County Jail.

The annual Skyway 10K race raises money for the Armed Forces Families Foundation.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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