State trooper saves runners’ lives after accused drunken driver ignores traffic cones, detour

A Florida state trooper risked her own life protecting a group of racers after an alleged drunken driver ignored detours and traffic cones, nearly smashing into runners.

The incident was caught on video.

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Police said the driver went past several Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers who were on duty, guarding a closed toll plaza at the end of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, WWSB reported.

Two Florida Highway Patrol maneuvered their vehicles to stop the driver, including Master Trooper Toni Schuck.

She had seen the car heading her way and moved her SUV into the path of the vehicle, Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles said on Facebook.

The SUV and the other car smashed head-on around 8:45 a.m. Sunday while Schuck protected runners competing in the Armed Forces Skyway 10K Race on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, WFLA reported. The road had been closed for the race.

Schuck was seriously injured in the crash, WWSB reported.

Master Trooper Toni Schuck

🚨HERO ALERT🚨 Yesterday, Florida Highway Patrol Master Trooper Toni Schuck put herself directly in harm’s way and prevented a tragedy at the Skyway 10K Bridge Run. A drunk driver traveling at a high rate of speed was heading toward the Skyway 10K route and thousands of participating runners, and Trooper Schuck responded and drove her vehicle directly into the path of the oncoming drunk driver. Thank you for your bravery and self-sacrifice, Trooper Schuck. We wish you a speedy recovery.

Posted by Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles on Monday, March 7, 2022

Police said the driver of the car, Kristen Kay Watts, 52, had a blood alcohol level of 0.094 and was above Florida’s legal limit of 0.08, The Washington Post reported.

She faces five charges including reckless driving and driving under the influence, the newspaper reported. She has pleaded not guilty.

About 8,000 racers ran the 10K, according to the event’s organizers.