Tampa Bay Buccaneers No. 2 quarterback Blaine Gabbert helped rescue a helicopter crash involving four people Thursday night in Tampa, according to Tampa police.
Shortly after 5 p.m., a helicopter carrying a pilot and three passengers crashed on approach to Peter O. Knight Airport, police said.
The passengers and the pilot said that after hearing a loud bang, the device lost power, sending them into the water near the Davis Islands Yacht Club. Two personal watercraft arrived within minutes, one of them being driven by Gabbert, who helped bring the family back to dry land.
The pilot and three passengers emerged from the crash safely. Local agencies are working to remove the helicopter from the water.
“I vaguely remember hearing a thud,” Gabbert said Friday. “I remember looking west and seeing…like a ship broken into four pieces. I saw two yellow life jackets, so I figured we’d have to get that closer. »
Gabbert was accompanied by his brothers, visiting from Missouri. They discovered Wesley, Lisa, and Hunter Hupp, along with their pilot, alive. They were, however, shaken and covered in oil. Hunter, 33, was caught inside the underwater craft but managed to get out of there to return to the surface after his mother Lisa, 59, and his father Wesley, 62. The pilot is called Rafael Ciriaco.
Gabbert, who says he has spent 30 years of his life on the water, considers himself an excellent swimmer, but has never taken a formal first aid course. He helped them inflate their life jackets.
« I expected the worst when I got there, » said Gabbert, who immediately called 9-1-1. “I tried to get them on the jet ski as fast as possible because it was quite cold. »
It was then that the maritime patrol arrived as reinforcements.