Four people were rescued after the helicopter made an emergency landing in water near the Davis Islands Yacht Club.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Blaine Gabbert is being praised as a hero after helping save four people from a helicopter crash. The occupants of the helicopter ended up in the water near the Davis Islands Yacht Club after it crash-landed in the water on December 29. According to a press release, the pilot and the three passengers reportedly heard a loud bang and the helicopter lost power while on the way to land at Peter O. Knight Airport following a tour.
The pilot conducted an emergency landing into the water near the Davis Islands Yacht Club, with all occupants ending up in the water. https://t.co/wKnm7Cstca— ABC7 Sarasota (@mysuncoast) December 30, 2022
Among the good Samaritans who pulled up passengers onto their vessels were Gabbert and his brothers, who were visiting from St. Louis. They were jet skiing when they found debris and people in the water. "We often say that we cannot do our jobs well without the community and that we are safer, together," Interim Chief Lee Bercaw said in a statement. "Yesterday was an amazing example of how teamwork, not only in the sports world but also in our hometown, is why our area is known as Champa Bay."
HEROES! 👏 When a helicopter crashed in the water near the Peter O. Knight Airport on Davis Islands yesterday, @Buccaneers QB Blaine Gabbert and his brothers, who were on jet skis nearby, didn’t hesitate to help with the water rescue. They transported the 3 passengers to safety. pic.twitter.com/Q1FEoTgkmY— City of Tampa (@CityofTampa) December 30, 2022
Speaking to CNN Gabbert said he and his brothers heard "a faint noise" before realizing people had landed in the water. "We turned around... and I just remember looking to the west and seeing – it almost looked like a crew boat that had broken up in the water into about four pieces – and I vaguely remember seeing like two yellow lifejackets," Gabbert said. When he reached the location he realized that it was a helicopter in the water and expected the "worst-case scenario." The family was covered in oil from the crash landing and looked visibly shaken up, Gabbert shared.
"Then I called 911, tried to remain as calm as possible... I was just at the right place, at the right time. The credit really goes out to Tampa police department, the fire department, and the Sheriff’s department because they were there within five seconds. It was pretty remarkable. I got two on my Jet Ski, my brothers got one, the pilot was still in the water. That was when you guys showed up," he added.
Gabbert and his brothers helped get the family to shore and the pilot to a rescue boat. The family members included Hunter Hupp, 33, and his mother Lisa, 59, and father, Wesley, 62. Hunter said he and his family were grateful to the player and even made a joke about their "meeting."