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NFL Quarterback Helps Rescue Family After Helicopter Crash

Tampa Bay quarterback Blaine Gabbert turned up on jet ski
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2022 11:33 AM CST
NFL Player Helps Rescue 4 After Helicopter Crash
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Blaine Gabbert is seen during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Glendale, Ariz.   (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Philadelphia man Hunter Hupp isn't a football player, but he got a big assist from Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Blaine Gabbert on Thursday. Gabbert was one of three men on two jet skis who rescued Hupp and his parents after a helicopter crashed into Hillsborough Bay near downtown Tampa, Fox 13 reports. Hupp, 28, says his 63-year-old father was brought to shore on one jet ski and he was on the other one with his 59-year-old mother. A police marine unit brought the helicopter's pilot to shore. "Let me tell you, helicopters sink really fast," says Hupp, who bought the hourlong helicopter tour of the Tampa Bay area as a Christmas gift for his parents. None of the four people on board were injured in the emergency landing.

Police say the helicopter came down around 200 yards from shore after an engine failure and ended up submerged in the bay, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Hupp says he was the last one to make it out. He says was caught under his seatbelt and cords as the helicopter started to sink. He estimates he was underwater for nearly a minute before he managed to free himself. Hupp says it was the first—and last—helicopter trip for all three family members. He says the men on jet skis arrived while they were treading water, wondering if they should wait for help or try to swim to shore.

Hupp tells Fox Sports that the rescuers brought them to a beach near a yacht club "and hung out for a while, were really nice." He adds that they "went out for a nice afternoon ride and just happened to come upon a stranded helicopter family." He says he didn't find out until afterward that one of the men was the NFL quarterback. "My mom said she was hoping to meet Tom Brady while we were down here," he says. "I think she came pretty darn close." Gabbert is Brady's backup on the team. (More Tampa stories.)

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