Trooper was last defense as woman’s car sped toward runners

March 10, 2022 GMT

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A Florida state trooper says she was the last obstacle when an allegedly drunk woman sped her BMW past barriers and toward runners preparing for a race across a major bridge.

The Florida Highway Patrol says Trooper Toni Schuck may have saved dozens of runners getting ready early Sunday for an annual 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) race across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Schuck used her Highway Patrol SUV to block the 52-year-old woman from continuing on the bridge. The woman had weaved the BMW around barriers meant to block traffic for the race and eluded other officers.

“I was the last officer, I knew it was me,” Schuck said at a news conference Thursday. “If it wasn’t me to get her to stop, then who?”

The BMW was moving fast and slammed into Schuck’s vehicle in nearly a head-on collision. The woman faces driving under the influence and other charges.

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Schuck and the other driver were both injured in the crash but not seriously. The Highway Patrol said Schuck suffered a concussion and cuts to her head, and is recuperating at home.

Schuck, a 26-year Highway Patrol veteran and mother of two, said she reacted on instinct once it was clear the BMW driver would not stop.

“I thought if she got past, she would see that truck and she would stop. If she saw me veer to the left, I thought she would stop,” Schuck said. “In my mind, she’s gonna stop. The next thing was the crash.”

The trooper said she realized the magnitude of her actions once she saw the runners as she was taken for treatment in an ambulance.

“It really overwhelmed me. I’m thankful it was me. I’m thankful she didn’t get past me,” she said.