The two officers were aboard the Huntington Beach Police Department’s “HB1” helicopter responding to a disturbance call when it crashed into the water in Newport Beach, Police Chief Eric Parra said. during a press conference.
Officer Nicholas Vella, 44, died from injuries sustained in the crash, the police chief said.
“Our deepest condolences to Officer Vella’s family,” said Huntington Beach Mayor Barbara Delgleize. “This tragic accident reminds us of the danger and the risks that our police officers expose themselves to daily to protect our community.”
Authorities do not know why the helicopter crashed and an investigation is ongoing as the police department inspects other aircraft, Parra said.
The Huntington Beach Police “and the law enforcement community lost an officer who was truly dedicated to his job, who did what he loved to do, and this is a tragedy we are investigating,” said Parra.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Major Accident Reconstruction Team are investigating the accident, according to Parra.
Huntington Beach and Newport Beach are adjacent beach communities in Orange County, California.