Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Blaine Gabbert used jet skis to help rescue the passengers of a helicopter after it crash-landed in the water on Thursday, he said in a press meeting on Friday.
Gabbert and his two brothers, Tyler and Brett, were jetskiing in Hillsborough Bay when they heard a faint noise. “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,” he said.
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On reaching the location, Gabbert said he realized that it was a helicopter in the water and expected the “worst-case scenario.”
According to Tampa police, the helicopter was making its way back to Peter O Knight Airport when the pilot allegedly heard a loud bang and lost power.
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Around 300 feet from the airport’s beach, the pilot made an emergency landing in the water near the Davis Islands Yacht Club, with all passengers ending up in the water, the police said.
“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,” Gabbert said. The family was all visibly shaken up and covered in oil from the crash landing, he added.
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Gabbert managed to get two people out of the water and onto his jet ski, while his brothers helped another person, with the fourth passenger being rescued by authorities.
Dan Spears, the police officer in Tampa Bay informed that the Gabbert brothers had almost completed the rescue by the time they reached to try and help the victims.
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Gabbert was made an honorary member of the Tamba Police Marine Patrol after his contribution to Thursday’s rescue.