Huntington Beach

A grand farewell to a hero

LAW ENFORCEMENT colleagues gathered at Honda Center in Anaheim for services for Nicholas Vella (HBPD photo).

The tragic death of Nicholas Vella, a Huntington Beach police officer killed on Feb.19 in a helicopter crash, has brought an outpouring of grief and appreciation.

Vella, 44, and another HBPD officer were in the city police copter en route to assist Newport Beach police when the aircraft crashed into the water between Lido Isle and the Balboa Peninsula. Vella was fatally injured in the mishap.

As a tribute to his service to the community and the police department, the funeral procession on Tuesday to Honda Center in Anaheim wound first through major streets in Huntington Beach where residents lined the street to observe and offer thanks and support.

At Honda Center, thousands of people attended the mass for Vella, where he was eulogized.

Referring to Vella’s personnel file, Huntington Beach Police Chief Eric Parra read from notations praising him: “This is the greatest guy, he’s got the best communications style, he’s a leader, he exemplifies courage.”

Vella started his police career with the Laguna Beach Police Department and served 18 years with the HBPD. He is survived by his wife and daughter.


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