Buccaneers backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert assisted in a heroic act in Tampa Bay on Thursday.
The 33-year-old Super Bowl champion helped rescue four people when a helicopter they were traveling in crashed into a body of water near the Davis Islands Yacht Club in Tampa, Fla., according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The helicopter crashed just after 5 p.m. when the pilot, a 33-year-old male, had to make an emergency landing due to an engine failure, Tampa Police Department Lt. Daniel College said. A family of three — Hunter Hupp, 28, and his parents Lisa, 59, and Wes, 62 — along with the pilot all survived with no injures.
Within minutes of the crash, two jet skis arrived — one of which was driven by Gabbert, who helped bring the family to land.
Gabbert said he was riding jet skis with his two brothers when he heard a noise that led them to the crash site.
“I vaguely remember hearing a faint noise, so we turned around, left the yacht club…,” Gabbert, who has a home in the area, told reporters on Friday. “It almost looked like a crew boat in the water that had broken up into about four pieces. I vaguely remember seeing two yellow life jackets… They looked like they were in duress. We raced over there.”
In an interview with Fox Sports, Hupp recalled the two men that helped bring him and his parents to shore. At the time of the rescue, Hupp said he and his family didn’t know who Gabbert was.
“They slowly brought us back to the shore, a sandy beach near the yacht club, and hung out for a while, were really nice,” Hupp said. “We exchanged pleasantries upon reaching flat ground. They were really an asset to helping us out, because we were the only ones out there for a while. It was a handshake and a hug and ‘Thank you so much.’ They went out for a nice afternoon ride and just happened to come upon a stranded helicopter family.”
While describing Gabbert, Hupp said, “I think that was the one my mom was clinging to” during the rescue.
“My mom said she was hoping to meet Tom Brady while we were down here,” he said. “I think she came pretty darn close.”
The Tampa Police Department said in a release it “is currently coordinating with local and federal agencies regarding the investigation and eventual recovery of the helicopter.”
“I called 911, tried to remain as calm as possible. It all turned positive. They were healthy, scared, nervous. It was a pretty crappy situation that turned good in the end. It was right place, right time I guess,” Gabbert said before crediting Tampa PD for a quick response.
“I got two on my jet ski, my brothers got one and the pilot was still in the water when [police] pulled up… If [authorities] weren’t there in the nick of time it could’ve turned bad and I’m glad everybody’s healthy.”
Gabbert is in his 12th NFL season and fourth with the Bucs. He has not played this season as the top backup to Brady.
The Buccaneers host the Panthers on Sunday.