The two officers were aboard the Huntington Beach Police Department’s helicopter “HB1” responding to a disturbance call when it crashed into the water in Newport Beach, police chief Eric Parra said during a news conference.
Officer Nicholas Vella, 44, died from injuries suffered in the crash, the police chief said.
“Our deepest sympathies to the family of Officer Vella,” said Huntington Beach Mayor Barbara Delgleize. “This tragic accident serves as a reminder of the danger and risks that our police officers put themselves in on a daily basis to protect our community.”
Authorities are uncertain why the helicopter crashed, and an investigation is underway as the police department inspects other aircrafts, Parra said.
Huntington Beach Police “and the law enforcement community have lost an officer that was truly dedicated to his job, that was doing what he loved doing, and this is a tragedy that we are investigating,” Parra said.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department major accident reconstruction team are investigating the crash, according to Parra.
Huntington Beach and Newport Beach are adjoining seaside communities in Orange County, California.