Gabbert and his brothers were riding jet skis nearby when they saw a helicopter with four passengers make an emergency water landing near the Davis Islands.
Tampa police said that the chopper had been on an aerial tour and was returning to Peter O. Knight Airport when it lost power, forcing the pilot to attempt a water landing.
No one was injured in the crash, although one passenger, 28-year-old Hunter Rapp, said that he was trapped underwater for nearly a minute.
"I vaguely remember seeing two yellow life jackets, so I was like, 'We've got to go check this out,'" Gabbert recalled to reporters Friday.
"They looked like they were in duress; we raced over there.
"The youngest kid had just come up and said he was pinned in there, and I asked if anyone else was trapped. Then I called 9-1-1 and tried to remain as calm as possible, but it all turned positive."
Gabbert credited the first responders on the scene for the rescue and their quick response.
"I was just in the right place, right time, I guess," Gabbert said.
"I got two on my jet ski and my brothers got one. The pilot was still in the water, and that's when [Tampa police] pulled up, and I dragged him a little towards the boat.
"It was a pretty crappy situation that turned good in the end."