One police officer died and another is in critical condition after a law-enforcement helicopter crashed in Newport Beach Saturday night.
The helicopter crashed near West Balboa Boulevard and 18th Street, according to Newport Beach Police Department spokeswoman Heather Rangel.
Security footage from a nearby resident shows the helicopter spinning and losing altitude, and aerial footage from Sky5 showed the helicopter to be submerged in water a few yards offshore.
Joseph Thore, who was barbecuing nearby, witnessed the crash.
“You could tell that it was in trouble and it looked like it was losing control, looked like it was spiraling a bit,” he said.
The crash, which occurred at about 6:30 p.m., sent both crew members to trauma centers, one with moderate injuries and the other with serious injuries, the Los Angeles Times reported.
One officer, a 16-year veteran, is in critical condition, while the other officer, Nicholas Vella, died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the crash, the Huntington Beach Police Chief Eric Parra confirmed in a press conference late Saturday night.
Vella was a 14-year veteran of the department, Parra said.
“This is a difficult night for all of us, and I would ask for your prayers and your support as we support our officer’s family and as we continue to grieve through this,” Parra said.
“Officer Vella leaves behind a wife and daughter. He served the community of Huntington Beach with honor and dignity. Please join us in extending prayers to Officer Vella’s family,” the department added on Twitter.
Huntington Beach Mayor Barbara Delgleize called the event “heartbreaking.”
“Our community values our police department, and the loss of an officer hits us all really hard. This tragic accident serves as a reminder of the danger and the risk that our police officers put themselves in on a daily basis to protect our community,” Delgleize said.
In a similar incident earlier Saturday, another helicopter crashed near swimmers in Miami Beach.