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Bucs QB Blaine Gabbert Among People to Rescue Family from Helicopter Water Landing

Erin WalshDecember 30, 2022

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 25: Blaine Gabbert #11 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prepares for a game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on December 25, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Norm Hall/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Blaine Gabbert was among the bystanders to help rescue a man and his family from a helicopter that had to make an emergency landing in the water near Davis Islands in Tampa on Thursday, according to Matt Cohen of the Tampa Bay Times.

Gabbert was on a personal watercraft at the time of the incident, per Cohen.

JennaLaineESPN @JennaLaineESPN

Tampa Police interim chief Lee Bercaw has made Bucs quarterback Blaine Gabbert an honorary member of their Tampa Police Marine Patrol after he and his two brothers saved four people from the water of a helicopter crash Thursday. <a href="https://t.co/RLQTqa52oe">pic.twitter.com/RLQTqa52oe</a>

Hunter Hupp and his parents were taking a helicopter tour over Tampa and the city's beaches as a Christmas gift before he heard a "popping sound" from above his head. The helicopter's engine had failed and it wasn't going to make it back to the airport.

The helicopter made an emergency landing in the water around 200 yards from Davis Islands. As the aircraft began to sink, Hupp found himself entangled in seatbelts and other cords that made it difficult for him to escape.

Hupp's parents and the pilot made it out safely, but Hupp said he struggled under the water for between 45 seconds and a minute before he finally freed himself. Hupp, his parents and the pilot escaped with no injuries.

Greg Auman of Fox Sports reports Gabbert "was one of the first to respond on his jet ski" when the helicopter went down. The veteran signal-caller lives on Davis Islands, according to Auman.

As Hupp, his parents and the pilot treaded water, Gabbert and someone on another jet ski came along to help. Hupp said his father was helped up onto one jet ski and he and his mother onto the other.

Hupp, who had no idea an NFL quarterback was one of the rescuers, detailed the matter, via Auman:

"They slowly brought us back to the shore, a sandy beach near the yacht club, and hung out for a while, were really nice. 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 huge and 'Thank you so much.' They went out for a nice afternoon ride and just happened to come upon a stranded helicopter family."

The Tampa Police Department is now "coordinating with local and federal agencies regarding the investigation and eventual recovery of the helicopter."

Gabbert, who was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars 10th overall in 2011, has been with the Buccaneers since 2019 and serves as a backup to seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady.