Stretch of Beach Boulevard designated as the Officer Nicholas Vella Memorial Highway
A stretch of Beach Boulevard in Huntington Beach will be named for the late Huntington Beach Police Department Officer Nicholas Vella, who died in a helicopter crash nearly one year ago.
A ceremony was held Saturday morning to unveil the sign for Vella, who was 44 and a 14-year veteran of the HBPD. He died on Feb. 19, 2022, when his helicopter veered right and crashed into the ocean in Newport Beach after the two-person crew, including an unidentified pilot who was injured, reported mechanical issues.
About a 3-mile stretch of State Highway 39, from Pacific Coast Highway to Talbert Avenue, will be designated as the Officer Nicholas Vella Memorial Highway.
State Sen. Janet Nguyen, whose District 36 includes Huntington Beach, introduced the legislation to designate the highway in Vella’s honor. She attended and spoke at Saturday’s ceremony, as did Huntington Beach Mayor Tony Strickland and Newport Beach Mayor Noah Blom.
Members of Vella’s family were in attendance, including his wife, Kristi, teenage daughter Dylan, father John, mother Marcella and brother John Arthur. Uniformed police officers from several local jurisdictions also paid tribute.
Vella had previously served with the Laguna Beach Police Department for four years before joining the HBPD. He was the fourth HBPD officer in 113 years to lose his life while on duty.
The ceremony concluded with a helicopter flyover and an Assn. of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs Pipe Band playing “Amazing Grace.”
All the latest on Orange County from Orange County.
Get our free TimesOC newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Daily Pilot.