TAMPA, Florida– Buccaneers backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert became an unexpected hero Thursday when a helicopter crashed into Tampa’s Hillsborough Bay.
He and his two brothers were cruising nearby on jet skis and remotely checking out some of the sailboats at a yacht club when they heard a “faint noise” south of Davis Island and rushed towards it.
“I just remember looking west and seeing it almost looked like a crew boat in the water that was broken into about four pieces and I vaguely remember seeing two yellow life jackets, so I thought , alright, we’ve got to look at that,” Gabbert said at a news conference on Friday, with local authorities standing behind him like proud parents.
The brothers came to the crash site to find a sinking helicopter and several people who needed rescuing.
“The youngest kid just came up and said he was pinched in there and I asked if anyone else was pinched and then I called 911 and tried to stay as calm as possible,” Gabbert said.
He was able to get two of the people out of the water onto his jet ski while his brothers helped the third person. A fourth inmate was rescued from the water by authorities, which Gabbert said arrived in record time.
The pilot and three passengers were on a helicopter tour of the area when they heard a loud bang and the helicopter lost power, the Tampa Police Department said in a statement. The pilot made an emergency landing in the water.
Tampa Bay Police Officer Dan Spears said Gabbert and his brothers “had just about completed the rescue” when he arrived.
“It was quite an impressive performance, without a doubt,” said Spears. “They were very calm – great work at that… One of the most dangerous circumstances on an airplane is a water landing just because a helicopter has turned around and is trying to escape from that and not get caught in it, so it was a very amazing fact that everyone got out are.”
Gabbert said he rode his jet ski to shore, where firefighters met them.
“I thought please hold on tight,” he said to his two drivers. “We’ll get to the beach quickly and dry you off, bring you a coffee and warm you up.”
The Tampa Bay Police Department made Gabbert an honorary member of their Marine Unit on Friday.
“It’s funny how time kind of slows down in situations like this,” Gabbert said. “I just wanted to get them dry and warm as soon as possible.”
Bucs coach Todd Bowles thought the save was “outstanding”.
“Anytime you find a guy who will drop everything and 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, says a lot about that from the guy,” he said. “And Blaine did that.”
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https://6abc.com/nfl-qb-rescues-victims-blaine-gabbert-tampa-bay-buccaneers-hillsborough-helicopter-crash/12632246/ Blaine Gabbert helicopter crash rescue: Tampa Bay Bucs QB and his brothers help rescue 4 people in Gulf of Mexico