ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It's been one year since a trooper put her car in the path of an accused drunk driver heading toward runners at the Skyway 10K in 2022 in an effort to protect them.
Trooper Toni Schuck was honored this year for her heroic actions at the 2023 Skyway 10K event.
Although she didn't want to cause an uproar, a spokesperson for the running event, Peter D'Abrosca, earlier said she would be recognized and would be a part of the lead patrol car at the beginning of the Skyway 10K.
In addition to honoring Schuck, there will "definitely be added layers of security" at this year's Skyway 10K, D'Abrosca said.
Schuck took about four months to recover following the almost head-on collision with the accused drunk driver, Kristen Watts. At around 8:45 a.m. on March 6, 2022, Watts drove through the closed toll plaza on the Manatee County side of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, FHP said.
Seeing the approaching car, FHP Sgt. Steve Gaskins radioed two troopers and others to have them intercept the driver and protect thousands of runners participating in the Skyway 10K on the bridge.
In the dashcam video, you see Schuck's patrol car drive in the middle of two lanes just before Watts' car smashes into the trooper, almost head-on. The sound of sirens and rustling debris can be heard shortly after. Watts is charged with two counts of DUI with damage to property or person, two counts of reckless driving with damage to property or a person and DUI causing serious bodily injury.
Schuck was the 2022 Trooper of the Year, FHP announced back in February 2023. She is the fourth woman to receive the honor.