Video: Florida trooper risks life and crashes HEAD-ON into drunk driver to save 10K runners
Toni Schuck, a Florida state trooper, saved dozens of lives after she crashed her patrol SUV into the car of an accused drunk driver about to barrel through a community race. On Sunday, March 6, Kristen Kay Watts, the drunk driver, was driving a 2011 BMW 335i at a very high speed. She approached a road closure in place due to the Armed Forces Skyway 10K Race, involving nearly 7,000 participants and their support staff.
Watt's vehicle drove through numerous traffic cones while the State Officers attempted to conduct a traffic stop of the vehicle. After she kept evading Troopers, 47-year-old Schuck steered into the path of the BMW to prevent the vehicle from going any further. The collision, recorded by the dashcam of Schuck's SUV, caused serious injuries to both drivers. Schuck is back home and healing from a concussion and a head wound.
"This driver had blown past several check points, going around traffic cones, going around other officers, and had engaged in high speeds. There's no telling what would have happened had that vehicle actually reached all of those runners. The bottom line is these troopers saved dozens upon dozens of lives and saved even more people from serious bodily harm injury," WFLA quoted Trooper Ken Watson as saying.
"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. 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 added. He praised 47-year-old Master Trooper Toni Schuck, who made the split-second decision to drive into Watts' car to save the runners. "For this trooper to risk her life to make sure that others will be okay is the epitome of what service is all about," added Watson.
The 52-year-old Watts from Sarasota was arrested by the Florida Highway Patrol. Watts is charged with DUI-serious injury, two counts of DUI-property damage, and two counts of reckless driving involving injury and property damage. She was booked into the Manatee County Jail on a $52,000 bond. On Monday, Watts told the court that she was unemployed and living on money from a lawsuit.
Meanwhile, Schuck, the 26-year-old veteran of the Patrol, has been garnering praises online for placing herself in harm's way to protect others and is hailed a hero.
One user commented, "I was one of those runners you helped protect yesterday with your heroic actions. I saw the accident driving home after the race. My heart dropped when I learned what happened. There are no words to properly express how much I appreciate your service [hearts emoji]," while another praised Schuck saying, "What amazing action this brave and selfless officer took to protect others. Get well soon!"
A third replied, "A true servant of the community! God bless Trooper Schuck for this selfless act of bravery! May she recover fully and quickly, and may we all see this example as one of the many things law enforcement does for us daily! [folded hands emoji] [blessed emoji] [flexing biceps emoji]." A fourth added, "That is a super crazy and brave move on her part to protect others. Praying she has a speedy recovery and not lasting damage from the accident. They were flying. Lord. That individual is a real life hero!!"