A Sarasota woman who was expected to plead guilty of hitting a Florida trooper’s vehicle during a 10K running race on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge will next appear in court in December.
Kristen Watts, 53, briefly appeared before Circuit Court Judge Charles Sniffen in a Manatee County courtroom on Thursday, but the hearing was postponed until Dec. 14.
Earlier in the week, on Monday, Watts also was scheduled to enter a guilty plea at a hearing and face sentencing, but the hearing was canceled. Watts also appeared in court before Sniffen on Oct. 25, when she was expected to plead guilty to charges of driving under the influence and fleeing and eluding law enforcement, but the judge said he preferred to handle the plea and sentencing in one hearing.
If there is no plea, a trial could be scheduled for February, Sniffen said.
In March 2022, Watts was arrested on Interstate 275 after she blew a barricade and failed to stop for law enforcement, crashing into a highway trooper’s SUV.
The bridge was shut down to traffic for the Skyway 10K, an annual race that raises money for charity. The race had 8,000 runners participating, organizers of the charity event said.
Dashcam footage released by FHP showed Watts’ BMW 335i sedan speeding north on I-275 and avoiding one cruiser attempting to block her passage before she crashed head-on into the patrol vehicle of Trooper Toni Schuck.
Several officers tried to stop Watts as she sped closer to the runners on the bridge. Schuck then positioned her SUV as the last line of defense between a rogue driver and the pedestrians on the Skyway, the Bradenton Herald previously reported.
“I was the last officer. I knew it was me. If it wasn’t me to get her to stop, then who?” Schuck said at a 2022 news conference.
Both Schuck and Watts were seriously injured in the crash.