NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – A 14-year-old police veteran was killed and another officer was injured after a police helicopter crashed near Newport Beach in Orange County in southern California on Saturday night, authorities said.

According to police, the helicopter made an emergency landing around 6.30pm while responding to unrest near Newport Beach.

Nicholas Vela, 44, of the Huntington Beach Police Department, was killed in the crash, Chief Eric Parra said during a news conference Saturday night.

The second officer, who is a 16-year veteran of the department, was taken to hospital in critical condition. He was released from the hospital on Sunday morning.

He was not identified, but during Saturday night’s press conference Parra said he was fine.

“The city of Huntington Beach, the people of Huntington Beach, the Huntington Beach Police Department and law enforcement have lost an officer who was really dedicated and did what he liked,” Parra said. “This is a difficult night for all of us, and I ask you for prayer and support as we support the families of our officers.”

Vela leaves his wife and daughter. It is unclear who was piloting the plane at the time.

A procession in honor of Vela in Santa Ana took place late Saturday night.

Hundreds of police officers gave fireworks near the Orange County Global Medical Center as his body was taken to the coroner’s office.

“It’s a really heartwarming time for all of us here at Huntington Beach,” said Huntington Beach Mayor Barbara Deglis. “Our community values ​​our police department, and the loss of an officer beats us all very hard. This tragic incident serves as a reminder of the dangers and risks our police officers are exposed to on a daily basis to protect our community.” “

Meanwhile, several eyewitnesses recalled hearing a helicopter crash.

“We have a lot of helicopters flying, but it was higher,” said one eyewitness. “It sounded wrong. I looked outside and saw it spinning.”

One woman told us she saw the helicopter spinning and quickly sinking into the water.

“Suddenly I hear something spraying very close, and it doesn’t sound like a regular helicopter,” she said. “He somehow managed to bring him into the bay to save everyone’s life. If he had landed on the house, there would have been a lot of casualties. I feel very happy.”

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s Major Accident Recovery Unit are investigating the crash.

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