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

Trooper Toni Schuck’s last-ditch effort to save defenseless runners was captured on dashcam video

toni schuck trooper crashes into drunk driver

Florida Highway Patrol

By Ryan Ballogg
The Bradenton Herald

PALMETTO, Fla. — In the days since she blocked a speeding and allegedly intoxicated driver from reaching a bridge full of pedestrians, Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Toni Schuck has received widespread praise for her actions.


Florida Highway Patrol trooper Toni Schuck talks with the media on Thursday, March 10, 2022, she potentially saved lives Sunday by crashing her cruiser into a DUI suspect barreling towards a road race.

Douglas R. Clifford

The 47-year-old Tampa resident earned public thanks from her agency, fellow law enforcement officers and countless community members expressing appreciation online; the incident also made national news with a spot on NBC’s " Today Show.”

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

For Schuck, who was seriously injured in the crash, it is a moment that won’t be easily forgotten.

At a press conference on Thursday, the 26-year FHP veteran reflected on the split-second moment when she used her patrol vehicle to stop block the swerving driver.

“Every day since it’s happened I’ve thought about it,” said Schuck, who still had visible injuries on Thursday. “You go through the what-ifs.”

The driver of the rogue sedan, 52-year-old Kristen Kay Watts of Sarasota, had bypassed an interstate closure that was in place for the Sunshine Skyway 10K on Sunday morning.

The charity event attracted thousands of participants to walk and run over the iconic Sunshine Skyway Bridge that joins St. Petersburg’s Pinellas County and Bradenton’s Manatee County across Tampa Bay.

Multiple law enforcement officials tried without success to stop Watts as she sped closer to the event. Eventually, there was only one line of defense left between the rogue driver and the Skyway, FHP later said. And that was Schuck.

”...I was the last officer. I knew it was me. If it wasn’t me to get her to stop, then who?” Schuck said.

Watts remains in custody at the Manatee County Jail, according to sheriff’s office records. She faces multiple charges including DUI with serious bodily injury.

(c)2022 The Bradenton Herald (Bradenton, Fla.)

“It’s a testament to the great work our law enforcement partners have done in thwarting what was obviously, to me and to us, a direct threat to the students of University Prep,” Chief Larry Scirotto said
One of the officers was stabbed in the area of his neck and chest, the other was slashed in the head before one of them shot the assailant
Officer Brett Boller survived the shooting and the suspect was arrested and charged with attempted murder
Bystander video shows officers deploying less lethal weapons before the man was shot by the officers