Trooper Seriously Injured During a High-Speed Crash Along the Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Thousands of competitors in an annual charitable event located on Florida’s Sunshine Skyway Bridge were almost placed in harm’s way over the weekend after an alleged drunk driver from Sarasota bypassed several safety barricades along the race route and crashed into a marked police SUV at a rest area Sunday morning.
According to preliminary collision reports from authorities with the Florida Highway Patrol, it was close to 8:45 a.m. on March 6, 2022, when 52-year-old Sarasota resident Kristen Kay Watts was driving a BMW 335i on the northbound lanes of I-275 at a high rate of speed. This particular stretch of the interstate had already been shut down for hours to local motorists in preparation for the Skyway 10K – a popular non-profit charity race held every year by the Armed Forces Families Foundation that raises money for service members and military families.
Troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol who were positioned along the Skyway Bridge, which spans multiple counties, have indicated that as Kristen Kay Watts approached the closed section of Interstate 275, she failed to maneuver her vehicle to the designated detour and decided to drive around traffic cones and additional safety measure put in place along the bridge to protect the race’s participants.
After multiple failed attempts to pull over the speeding BMW, two officers with the Florida Highway Patrol eventually positioned their vehicles across the northbound lanes of I-275 in order to prevent the out-of-control driver from crashing into the large group of race-goers that were already lined up and waiting for the 10K to start. Instead of stopping for the FHP’s roadblock, Watts crashed into a department-issued Chevy Tahoe SUV and seriously injured a 47-year-old female trooper in the process. Watts was also severely injured during the collision and both women were transported to a nearby hospital for further emergency medical treatment.
Shortly after the accident occurred, Kristen Kay Watts was arrested by the Florida Highway Patrol and charged with DUI causing serious bodily injury. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge was closed until around 11 a.m. while crews cleaned up debris left behind by the collision. No race participants were injured during the incident. The current condition of the injured FHP officer is unknown at this time.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.