Despite having the right to use most public roadways, pedestrians and cyclists are in a disproportionate amount of danger while on them. According to the most recent dataset from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in traffic crashes are at their highest levels since the 1980s. Almost 20 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States were people who weren’t drivers or passengers in motor vehicles.
Earlier this week, a potential mass-causality incident at a charity run was averted near St. Petersburg, Florida. A 2011 BMW 335i maneuvered around the barriers closing Interstate-275 for the Skyway 10K. The German sedan began speeding down the highway northbound towards Sunshine Skyway Bridge spanning Tampa Bay and a field of over 8,000 runners.
The Skyway 10K is a charity 10-kilometer race held to raise funds for the Armed Forces Families Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that directly supports the families of American military members.
Fortunately, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper was able to put her Chevrolet Tahoe into the path of the BMW. Trooper Toni Schuck was parked a half-mile from the race’s finish line and was the runners’ last line of defense. The BMW was traveling at speeds of at least 70 MPH, and no other officer was able to stop the sedan. Schuck positioned her SUV in the middle of the interstate and took a head-on collision to stop the BMW.
A woman for Sarasota, Florida was behind the wheel of the BMW and is facing DUI charges. According to court documents, the blood-alcohol level of the BMW driver was three times the legal limit. The driver’s blood-alcohol level was still above the legal limit when tested again at the county jail six hours later. Both women suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the incident.
The gravity of what could have happened weighed on Schuck’s shoulders as she spoke at a press conference days later. She said, “I was the last officer, I knew it was me. If it wasn’t me to get her to stop, then who?”