Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Blaine Gabbert was on jet skis when he helped save a family who was victims of a helicopter crash in Hillsborough Bay, Florida.
Gabbert, 33, was jet skiing with his two brothers, Tyler and Brett when they discovered a submerging helicopter that plummeted from the sky upon approach to Peter O. Knight Airport. Within the crash were three members of the Hupp family and a pilot. Wesley, Lisa, and Hunter Hupp, and their pilot were all breathing but clearly shaken from the accident. In addition, they were covered in oil.
“I just remember looking to the west and seeing … it almost looked like a crew boat in the water that had broken up in about four pieces,” the professional football recalled, according to ESPN. “And I vaguely remember seeing like two yellow life jackets, so I’m like, ‘All right, we’ve got to go check this out.'”
Gabbert added, “It looked like they were in distress. We raced over there, the youngest kid had just come up and he said he was pinned in there and I asked if anyone else was trapped.”
“I was expecting the worst-case scenario once I pulled up and realized it was a helicopter,” he continued. “I tried to get them on the Jet Skis as fast as I could just to get them out of the water because it was pretty chill yesterday on the water. You don’t want to have them in there for too long.”
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Gabbert was quick to call 911 and sit with the victims as they waited for the Tampa police marine patrol unit to arrive. When he described the story, he made sure to pay tribute to the first responders there to lead the family to safety.
Blaine Gabbert thanks the Tampa Police Department for their bravery
He shared, “[I] tried to remain as calm as possible…I was just at the right place, at the right time. The credit really goes out to the Tampa police department, the fire department, and the Sheriff’s department because they were there within five seconds.”
However, the Tampa Bay police department was quick to recognize Gabbert for his heroic act. In fact, Tampa police interim chief Lee Bercaw even crowned the football player as an honorary member of the Tampa Police Department Marine Patrol, presenting him with a hat after practice Friday. Additionally, responding officer Officer Dan Spears called the situation an ‘amazing circumstance’ after everyone survived.
“One of the most dangerous circumstances on aircraft is a water landing just due to the inversion of the helicopter and trying to escape that and not get trapped in,” he commented. “So it was a very amazing circumstance that everybody got out.”
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