On Friday, the Florida State Highway Patrol released interior footage of Trooper Toni Schuck doing her job to save citizens from a drunken driver who was headed towards runners who were taking part in a 10k event.
Schuck used her Chevy Tahoe to stop the BMW driven by 52-year-old Kristen Watts of Sarasota, who had a .271 blood-alcohol level, as she drove out of control towards the runners. Schuck is rightfully being called a hero for her service to the community.
Now, for the first time, we see footage from inside Schuck’s Tahoe as she stopped Watts.
Florida Highway Patrol released interior view of Trooper Toni Schuck's Tahoe when she put herself in between a speeding DUI suspect and runners in the Skyway 5K Sunday. STORY: https://t.co/XfoDmPAn4M pic.twitter.com/NFjJxUTLZ3
— FOX 13 Tampa Bay (@FOX13News) March 11, 2022
“I was sworn to protect, and that’s what I felt I did. Hero, that’s just a title,” an emotional Schuck told reporters Thursday. “If that’s what they want to say, then that’s great. I just feel that what I had to do. I didn’t want to do it, but I had to do it.”
Nearly 7,000 runners were on the Skyway bridge as Watts was on the loose heading towards the 10K. Schuck heard the call and went to intercept the drunken driver.
“In my mind, I’m thinking, ‘She’s going to stop. We have another checkpoint she will stop at,'” Schuck recalled.
Watts just kept coming towards the 26-year veteran trooper and the collision occurred. The trooper was able to walk to the ambulance, but soon the reality of what just happened kicked in and the veteran cop was hit by the magnitude of the moment as the ambulance passed the runners.
“I saw people still there, and it really overwhelmed me. It was just a situation where I knew there were people there and I’m thankful it was me. I’m thankful she didn’t get past me,” Schuck recalled. “Of course, in our jobs, we are to protect and serve, and even on her behalf.
“She could have just stopped. She could have just stopped, but she chose to do what she did. She was injured, and I don’t like that either. Because she should have just stopped. That’s the moral of the story.”
As for the hero thing, Schuck says she was just doing her job, but she also understands it was just her between the drunk driver and those runners.
“I’ve never been in this position where I’ve had to put myself for somebody else. Every day since it’s happened, I’ve thought about it. You go through the what ifs,” Schuck added. “But I was the last officer, I knew that. I knew it was me. So if it wasn’t me to get her to stop, then who? I don’t know.”
In a Facebook post, Schuck thanked her police-issued Tahoe.
“You served the state of FL citizens well,” she wrote. “I attribute my survival from yesterday to you, my angels and God above!”