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Weekend helicopter crashes off opposite U.S. coasts kill police officer, injure several people

Two separate helicopter crashes on opposite sides of the United States on Saturday resulted in the death of a police officer and injury of a second officer in one of the crashes and injured two people in the other. Both crashes were recorded by surveillance video. Miami Beach Robinson R44 crash The first crash, in Miami Beach, happened just off the shore of a crowded beach. The Miami Beach Police Department tweeted a video of the Robinson R44 splashing into the water, as a parachutist, boats and swimmers were in the surrounding area. The crash did not cause any casualties on the ground. The pilot, 59-year-old Robert Arkin, told local media that his training kicked in to avert disaster. A Massachusetts man, vacationing on the beach, said he urgently warned people swimming nearby to take cover, once it became apparent the helicopter was going to crash. People along the beach rushed to help the pilot and two passengers out of the waterlogged wreckage. Arkin was not injured, according to Miami ABC News affiliate WPLG-TV. The two passengers, attorney Morgan Geller and Rachelle Mussary Arkin, the pilot's wife, reportedly suffered broken backs. The NTSB and FAA are investigating that crash, as well as the Saturday crash of a police helicopter in Newport Beach, California. Newport Beach police helicopter crash The NTSB said that a police officer piloting the helicopter called in mechanical issues, then announced over the radio that they were crashing, shortly before the helicopter went into the ocean. Huntington Beach officer Nicholas Vella, who died in the crash, and another Huntington Beach officer who was injured but has since been released from the hospital, were responding to a disturbance in nearby Newport Beach. The NTSB said it appears the helicopter, registered to the FAA as a 1998 McDonnell Douglas 500N, appeared to descend nose-first into the water. Witnesses told the Los Angeles Times that the helicopter appeared to be in obvious distress just before crashing. The rotorcraft was one of three owned by the Huntington Police Department. The department said it knows which of the officers was in control of the helicopter at the time of the crash but has not released that info. The department's other two helicopters are now grounded, pending internal and federal investigations. Those investigations, as well as the investigation in Miami Beach, are expected to take months to complete, which is common in such cases.
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