Huntington Beach police helicopter crashes, killing 1 officer and injuring another

One Huntington Beach Police officer was killed and another was injured.

February 20, 2022, 3:13 AM

One police officer was killed and another was injured after a police helicopter crashed on Saturday into the water near Newport Beach in California.

The helicopter crashed at about 6:30 p.m. local time, as two officers from the Huntington Beach Police Department were responding to nearby Newport Beach, the department said.

PHOTO: A Huntington Beach Police helicopter is lifted out of the water in Newport Beach, Calif., Feb. 20, 2022.
A Huntington Beach Police helicopter is lifted out of the water in Newport Beach, Calif., Feb. 20, 2022.
Mindy Schauer/The Orange County Register via AP

"The helicopter crashed for reasons that we're not certain of," Huntington Beach Police Chief Eric Parra told reporters late Saturday. "One of the officers, a 16-year veteran, was extricated and he went to a local hospital, or nearby hospital, where he is in critical condition, but he is doing okay. The other officer, a 14-year veteran, unfortunately and tragically passed away as a result of injuries sustained during the crash."

Officials identified the officer killed as Nicholas Vella, 44. The second officer was not identified.

PHOTO: A photo of Huntington Beach police officer Nicholas Vella is displayed alongside flowers and notes as part of a memorial outside the Huntington Beach Police Department in Huntington Beach, Calif., Feb. 20, 2022.
A photo of Huntington Beach police officer Nicholas Vella is displayed alongside flowers and notes as part of a memorial outside the Huntington Beach Police Department in Huntington Beach, Calif., Feb. 20, 2022.
Leonard Ortiz/The Orange County Register via AP

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Orange County Sheriff's Department major accident reconstruction team are investigating the incident.

"I don't have details on what potentially caused the aircraft to become disabled," Parra said.

ABC News' Izzy Alvarez contributed to this report.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events