Two crashes – one in a helicopter and the other in a collision with a car – have killed two law enforcement officers in Florida and California.
The two officers joined 49 other law enforcement personnel killed in the line of duty across the country so far in 2022, according to the Memorial page of the shot officer.
Despite recent tragedies, deaths in the line of duty have fallen by 47% compared to the same period last year.
James Michael McWhorter
Florida Bureau of Farm Law Enforcement Cpl. James McWhorter died in a car accident on February 12 just south of the Georgia state line.
The 31-year-old father of four was engaged.
Authorities said McWhorter collided with a pickup truck while crossing Interstate 95 near Yulee, Florida. Details of the crash remain limited as investigators investigate the fatal incident, but officials said McWhorter was driving from the northbound inspection station to the southbound building across the freeway when the collision has occurred.
At Saturday’s funeral at the Middleburg First Baptist ChurchFlorida Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement Colonel James Wiggins hailed McWhorter as an exemplary officer, beloved by his colleagues. He posthumously promoted McWhorter to the rank of corporal.
“He was a friend,” Wiggins said. “He was a brother. He was always smiling and happy, especially when he talked about his family.
Wiggins said McWhorter became the fifth Florida farm law enforcement agency to die on duty. Burial at Jacksonville Memorial Gardens followed McWhorter’s funeral service.
Brittney Osborne told Coffee or Die Magazine that McWhorter, her fiancé, enjoyed his career in law enforcement and compared his fellow Bravo Shift officers to his family.
“It’s, like, the tightest shift they’ve had, in that they’re just really close,” Osborne said.
McWhorter maxed out her 112 overtime overtime hours during each 28-day rotating schedule, she said. They used the extra money to buy their new house and plan their wedding.
“He was coming home after a 14-hour drive and going straight into dad mode,” she said.
She said McWhorter dreamed of working with wildlife, especially alligators. They enjoyed taking the kids to visit a local alligator farm, although McWhorter seemed to enjoy the trips the most.
“They could just see it in his eyes, that if he could just get through the bulkheads, then he would be in there, and he would like that,” Osborne said.
Osbourne said McWhorter is a firm believer in reaching out to the community, including the annual Shop with a cop event, when law enforcement officers team up with impoverished children in Nassau County for holiday shopping excursions. He put his name on every open slot because he never wanted any kid to miss him.
“It wasn’t that he liked to do difficult things,” she said. “He loved doing things that mattered.”
James McWhorter was born on August 17, 1990 to Mark and Angela McWhorter. He is survived by his fiancee; Parents; the children, Jason, Jackson, Juliet and Juno; and his siblings, Jacob Everton, Mark Memmo, Angie Murray, Tiffany Desjardins and Joseph McWhorter.
Huntington Beach Police Officer Nicholas Vella, 44, suffered fatal injuries after his helicopter crashed around 6:30 p.m. Saturday off the coast of California.
Investigators continue to probe the cause of the crash, which happened five minutes after Vella, a pilot, and his unnamed 50-year-old partner responded in the HB-1 helicopter to a priority call to help the department Newport Beach police with an “ongoing fight,” according to a prepared statement released by the Huntington Beach Police Department.
Beach bystanders and nearby first responders rushed into the water to save Vella and his partner from the wreckage. Both officers were transported to local hospitals.
Vella’s partner was fired from hospital on sunday. Vella, a 14-year veteran of the department, died from his injuries.
He leaves behind a wife and a daughter. The Peace Officers Research Association of California is looking to raise $100,000 to support his family.
The National Transportation Safety Board classified the 1998 McDonnell Douglas 500N helicopter crash as an accident. The NTSB and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Major Accident Reconstruction Team are investigating the incident.
“No words can adequately express this loss,” the Huntington Beach police chief said. Eric Parra said in a prepared statement. “We deeply mourn Officer Vella’s family; and as a police department, we mourn too.
Read more : Same day, different coasts: heart attacks kill 2 firefighters