PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Dramatic video of a Sarasota woman crashing into a state trooper’s vehicle while under the influence was released by the Florida Highway Patrol on Monday.
The video shows Kristen Kay Watts, 52, of Sarasota driving her BMW north on I-275 at a high speed when she approached a road closure that was put in place for the Armed Forces Skyway 10K Race on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
Watts nearly crashed head-on with a vehicle operated by Trooper Toni Schuck, a 26 year veteran of the Patrol who was serving as the last line of defense to the Skyway 10K runners. Both Watts and Schuck were seriously injured and subsequently hospitalized.
“This is exactly why law-enforcement is critical to be at these events, making sure that if something unexpected happens, you will have officers there to take action,” Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Kenn Watson said. “We are just grateful that we were there, grateful that troopers were able to bring a stop to what could have been a catastrophe,” he continued.
Producer for News Radio WFLA Katie Butchino was about 15-minutes from the finish line. When she started seeing and hearing the commotion. It wasn’t until she saw these photos from the scene that she realized the severity of the situation.
“I can’t imagine had that Trooper not put themselves in the line, what could’ve happened and I am so grateful that she did and that she is OK but very very scary,” Butchino said.
Watts was charged with DUI serious injury, two counts of reckless drive damage person or property, and two counts of DUI damage to property or person of another. The case remains under investigation.
Those wishing to contact Trooper Schuck, who continues to recover from her injuries with her family at home, may send their thoughts to her attention at Florida Highway Patrol, 11305 North McKinley Drive, Tampa, FL 33612.