Driver who hit state trooper on Sunshine Skyway Bridge will take plea deal

Published: Oct. 11, 2023 at 9:36 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 11, 2023 at 2:17 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Sarasota woman who seriously injured a Florida Highway Patrol trooper in a crash on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in March 2022 will accept a plea deal.

Under the plea deal, Kristen Kay Watts will plead guilty to misdemeanor DUI. She won’t be convicted of a felony but the conviction will remain on her record.

In October of 2022, Kristen Kay Watts was deemed competent to stand trial, a ruling that reversed a decision made in June. Watts was committed to a mental health treatment facility.

In March 2022, the Florida Highway Patrol says Watts drove through barricades set for the Sunshine Skyway Bridge 10K, heading toward the race route. Trooper Toni Schuck put her patrol SUV into Watts’ path, authorities said, to protect racers. They collided head-on. Troopers say they could smell the odor of alcohol on Watts’ breath.

The police report said Watts was only able to participate in one sobriety exercise and showed obvious signs of impairment around her eyes.

According to a probable cause affidavit, a blood sample was taken from Watts at 11:07 a.m. Hospital staff told investigators the test indicated Watts’ blood alcohol level was 0.271. The legal limit for drivers in Florida is 0.08.

Attorneys for Watts note that she was dealing with paranoia, hallucinations and psychotic episodes prior to the incident.

Her sentencing will be held Nov. 6 at 1:30 p.m.