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Blaine Gabbert helped save family from water after helicopter crash

Blaine Gabbert on the sideline

Dec 25, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Blaine Gabbert (11) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing off the coast of Florida on Thursday evening, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Blaine Gabbert was one of the people who helped make sure all of those who were on board the aircraft got to shore safely.

Hunter Hupp, a 28-year-old man from Philadelphia, recalled his terrifying near-death experience on Thursday while speaking with Matt Cohen of the Tampa Bay Times less than two hours after the incident. Hupp said he, his 62-year-old father and 59-year-old mother took a helicopter tour out of Tampa that was given as a Christmas gift. The chopper was supposed to fly over Tampa and some beaches before returning to Peter O. Knight Airport.

The three passengers and pilot instead landed in the water.

Hupp recalled hearing a popping sound in the rotor above his head when the helicopter was headed back to the airport. Police later said the aircraft had an engine failure. The pilot was forced to land in the ocean.

Hupp said the pilot and his parents were able to free themselves right away and get to the surface of the water. He was trapped underwater in the helicopter for somewhere between 45 seconds and a minute and at one point thought he would drown.

Fortunately, Hupp was able to free himself. According to Cohen, Gabbert was among the bystanders who helped rescue the family and pilot from the water. The veteran quarterback was nearby on his jet ski at the time.

The exact role Gabbert played in the rescue efforts is unclear, but it sounds like he was part of a happy ending that could have been a tragedy.

Gabbert, 33, has been with the Buccaneers for the past three seasons. He serves as the team’s primary backup QB behind Tom Brady.

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