2 Helicopter Passengers in Stable Condition After Crash in Miami Beach

Hours later, a similar incident unfolded in Newport Beach, Calif., where one police officer died after a helicopter crashed in Newport Harbor

2 Helicopter Passengers in Stable Condition After Crashing Into Heavily Populated Beach
Photo: Miami Beach PD/Twitter

A mass casualty event in Miami was narrowly avoided on Saturday when a helicopter crashed into the water near hundreds of people.

According to a statement from the Miami Beach Police Department, two of the three helicopter passengers are in "stable condition" after being transported to the nearby Jackson Memorial Hospital.

The third passenger was able to walk away from the crash without transport to the hospital, ABC News reports.

"This afternoon at 1:10 p.m., MBPD received a call of a helicopter crash in the ocean near 10 Street," the MBPD announced. "Police and @MiamiBeachFire responded to the scene along with several partner agencies."

Police shut down two blocks around the beach and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was called to the scene to investigate with the National Transportation Safety Board. The circumstances around the crash are currently "unknown," according to a statement obtained by PEOPLE from the FAA.

Police also shared a harrowing video on social media of the moment the Robinson R44 chopper went down.

Graham Howell, a beachgoer who was on vacation from Nashville at the time, described the crash as "very scary." He detailed the experience on Twitter, writing that he "thought it was going to come down on us until we realized it was even closer to another group of people. Seemed like the pilot was doing his best to avoid the folks in the water."

A similar incident unfolded hours later in Newport Beach, Calif., where Officer Nicholas Vella of the Huntington Beach Police Department died from injuries sustained when a police aircraft plunged into the shore at Newport Harbor, according to a statement from HBPD. A second unidentified officer is in stable condition.

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"Officer Vella leaves behind a wife and daughter. He served the community of Huntington Beach with honor and dignity. Please join us in extending prayers to Officer Vella's family," HBPD wrote of the 14-year veteran.

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