MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The woman accused of driving drunk toward a group of runners on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge is asking for a plea deal.
Kristen Kay Watts is expected to plead guilty to driving under the influence and causing harm; however, her attorney is asking for a more consequential charge to be dropped.
An estimated 8,000 runners participate in the Skyway 10K race every year.
Thanks to Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Toni Schuck for putting her car in harm’s way, none of the runners were hurt in the 2022 race.
Investigators said Watts had a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit.
“She was very belligerent,” FHP Sergeant Steve Gaskins said. “She was, from my understanding, from the ambulance ride to the hospital she was belligerent and on the way to the jail as well.”
However, the felony charge for fleeing from troopers is what could put Watts behind bars. Her attorney requested that the charge be dropped.
“What I can tell you is she did not have any intention to harm anybody that morning,” Watt’s attorney Bruce Denson said. “She did not even know that there was a race going on on the bridge.”
Before the incident, Watts suffered mental health issues and went to rehab to help with hallucinations and psychotic episodes.
Her attorney claims the rehab did little to help. About a year later she found herself in this position.
“Would you have any trouble coming to court?” a prosecutor asked Watts to which she answered, “Well considering I don’t have a car…I’ll have to fix that I guess.”
If the state drops Watts’s felony charge, then she could only be facing 12 months probation and 50 hours of community service.
Watts’ sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 6.
“She’s going to testify,” Denson said. “She’s going to tell her side of it.”
She also plans to publicly apologize to Schuck.
“That was an important thing to Kristen, that she wanted to do is to speak directly and personally to Trooper Schuck from the stand in a public place,” Denson explained. “She’s excited to have that opportunity finally.”
“It’s something she has wanted to do for a long time, but just with the system, now is the time to do it,” she continued.