Buccaneers backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert became an unexpected hero on Thursday when a helicopter crashed into Tampa’s Hillsborough Bay.
At a press conference Friday, Gabbert said he and his two brothers were cruising nearby on jet skis and watching some sailboats at a yacht club from a distance when they heard a “faint noise” south of Davis Island and toward run the island. the.
“I just remember looking west and seeing it almost looked like a crew boat in the water that had broken into about four pieces, and I vaguely remember seeing two yellow life jackets, so I thought, ‘Okay, we need to go check this out,” said Gabbert, with local authorities standing behind him like proud parents.
The brothers arrived at the crash site to find a sinking helicopter and several people in need of rescue.
“The youngest boy just came up and said he was trapped there and I asked if anyone else was trapped and then I called 911, tried to stay as calm as possible,” Gabbert said.
He managed to get two of the people out of the water and onto his jet ski, while his brothers helped a third person. A fourth resident was helped out of the water by the authorities, who arrived in record time, according to Gabbert.
Fox Sports identified the people on the helicopter as 28-year-old Hunter Hupp, his parents Wes and Lisa, and the pilot.
“Let me tell you, helicopters sink really fast,” Hupp told the network Friday morning. “We learned that pretty quickly.”
The pilot and three passengers were on a helicopter ride through the area when they heard a loud bang and the helicopter lost power, the Tampa Police Department said in a statement, posting video of the rescue mission on social media.
The pilot made an emergency landing in the water.
Tampa Bay police officer Dan Spears said Gabbert and his brothers “almost completed the rescue” when he arrived.
“It was undoubtedly a pretty impressive performance,” Spears said. “They were very calm – great job on that… One of the most dangerous conditions in an airplane is a landing on water, just because of a helicopter’s turnaround, and trying to escape that and not get stuck, so it was a very amazing circumstance that everyone got out.”
Gabbert said he raced to shore on his jet ski, where the fire department met them.
“I was like, please hold on tight,” he told his two riders. “We’re going to the beach quickly to dry you off, get you coffee and warm up.”
The Tampa Bay Police Department named Gabbert an honorary member of their marine unit on Friday.
“It’s funny how time slows down a bit in those situations,” Gabbert said. “I just wanted to get them dry and warm as quickly as possible.”
Bucs coach Todd Bowles thought the save was “excellent”.
“Any time you can find someone who will drop everything and go help someone else they don’t even know, without even thinking about it, and take their life into their own hands and help someone else save their life, that says much about that man,” he said. “And Blaine did.”
The No. 10 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Gabbert has played for the Buccaneers since 2019 and currently serves as a backup to Tom Brady.
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