He and his two brothers, Tyler and Brett, were jet skiing in Hillsborough Bay, Florida when he said they heard a “thin noise.”
“We turned around… and I just remember looking to the west and seeing – it almost looked like a crew boat had smashed in the water into about four pieces – and I vaguely remember seeing like yellow life jackets,” Gabbert said.
Once at the site, Gabert said he realized it was a helicopter in the water and predicted a “worst-case scenario.”
Tampa police said the helicopter was on its way to Peter O. Knight Airport when the pilot heard a loud bang and then cut off.
Approximately 300 feet from the airport beach, the pilot made an emergency landing in the waters near the Davis Islands Yacht Club, police said, and all passengers ended up in the water.
“It looked like they were in distress. We raced there, and the youngest kid had just come in and said he was locked in there and I asked if anyone else was trapped,” Gabbert said, recalling later in the press conference that the family was all shivering and covered in oil from the crash landing.
Then I called 911, tried to stay as calm as possible… I was in the right place at the right time. The credit really goes to the Tampa Police Department, the Fire Department, and the Sheriff’s Department because they were there in five seconds.
“It was so cool. I got two on my jet ski, my brothers got one, and the pilot was still in the water. That was when you guys showed up.”
screenshots It was captured by the Tampa Police Department, who arrived on the scene shortly after Gabbert and his brothers, and showed Jet Skis circling the crash site, and the helicopter pilot climbing aboard the police boat.
Gabert and his brothers drove their jet skis safely to shore, and he was named an honorary member of the Tampa Police Marine Patrol after his role in Thursday’s rescue.
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