Gabbert was jet-skiing in Hillsborough Bay with brothers Brett and Tyler when he heard “a faint noise” nearby.
“It almost looked like a crew boat within the water that had broken up in about 4 pieces,” he said at a news conference, adding that there have been also life jackets visible.
“We raced over there,” he said, and located it wasn’t a crew boat. It was the wreck of a chopper, which crashed into the bay with the pilot and three passengers on board.
Gabbert said he called 911 and pulled two of the victims to safety on his jet ski, while one among his brothers helped a 3rd as first responders saved the pilot:
“Let me inform you, helicopters sink really fast,” passenger Hunter Hupp, who was flying together with his parents, told Fox Sports. “We learned that fairly quickly.”
He said he thinks his mother was one among the pair rescued by the quarterback.
“My mom said she hoped to satisfy Tom Brady while we were down here,” he said, referring to the Bucs’ famous starting quarterback. “I feel she got here pretty darn close.”
ESPN said word got out fast, with Gabbert receiving a text message from Bucs general manager Jason Licht inside about 45 minutes of the rescue.
“I truthfully desired to stay anonymous,” he told the network, saying credit for the rescue goes to the primary responders. “I just thought I used to be doing the suitable thing at the suitable time. I’m not much of a man to be within the limelight.”
Tampa Bay police Officer Dan Spears told CBS News that Gabbert and his brothers “had actually nearly accomplished the rescue” when first responders arrived.
The department made Gabbert an honorary member of its marine unit.