Ballwin native, former Mizzou QB Gabbert aids in jet ski rescue from Tampa helicopter crash

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Blaine Gabbert (11) reacts during an NFL football game against...
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Blaine Gabbert (11) reacts during an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)(Jonathan Bachman | AP)
Published: Dec. 30, 2022 at 10:25 AM CST
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TAMPA, Fla. (KCTV/KMOV) - One of the first people to assist in the rescue efforts of a helicopter crash Thursday evening in Tampa, Florida, was Ballwin native and former Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, four people were finishing up a helicopter tour just off the Davis Islands on Thursday night when they had to make an emergency landing just after 5 p.m. After his 62-year-old father, 59-year-old mother and a 33-year-old male pilot escaped the sinking helicopter, Hunter Hupp, 28, said he was able to free himself from underneath the water.

Hupp said he was underneath the water for between 45 seconds and a minute. Once he emerged from the water roughly 200 yards from shore, Gabbert and another man approached on jet skis. The former Tiger quarterback was able to help the family out of the water and onto the jet skis before Tampa Police arrived by boat.

“They slowly brought us back to the shore, a sandy beach near the yacht club, and hung out for a while, were really nice,” Hupp told Fox Sports. “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 ‘Thank you so much.’ They went out for a nice afternoon ride and just happened to come upon a stranded helicopter family.”

Gabbert, who now serves as the backup quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has a home on Davis Islands in an area where numerous Tampa Bay pro athletes live, including Tom Brady.

“My mom said she was hoping to meet Tom Brady while we were down here,” Hupp, who is from Philadelphia, told Fox Sports. “I think she came pretty darn close.”