SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Look in the Sacramento sky and, on occasion, you might see "Halo."
The Sacramento Police Department announced that sixth-grade students from Bell Elementary School helped name their new Bell 505 Jet Ranger X helicopter in honor of slain Davis Police Officer Natalie Corona.
Officer Corona, whose lifelong dream was to be a police officer, was attacked and killed on Jan. 10, 2019, while responding to a car crash. She was 22 years old.
"We thought that was a fitting tribute, that from now on she's like a guardian angel in the sky with us every time we're flying," said Sgt. Randy Van Dusen, supervisor of the department's air unit.
Van Dusen made the announcement just after the new helicopter made a landing on campus, with school Principal Lisa Hall on board.
Hall explained the final name was the culmination of a contest the police department held at the school since they are neighbors in North Sacramento - with the helicopter flying in and out of McClellan Airport, just 2.5 miles down the road.
Classrooms of all ages submitted name ideas for the helicopter, but the win ultimately went to sixth-grade students who said this about their submission:
"Our class feels that this is a great name because we want to honor Officer Corona. We also felt that this is a great name because corona can mean halo, and halos remind us of angels," Hall read, tearing a little as she read the final portion. "And Officer Corona passed away saving and protecting the city of Davis."
As it turns out, Officer Corona was no stranger to the school. She attended the Sacramento Police Academy in 2018. During that time, she and the academy class visited Bell Elementary School frequently as part of their community outreach program and made positive relationships with the students, the department said.
"That these children had a personal connection to Officer Corona from Davis, that really hit home," Van Dusen said. "There wasn't a dry eye in the room when we were reading that."
It's clear that the machine's name now makes it more than just a helicopter, and the police department made it clear that it doesn't just belong to them — it belongs to the community they serve.
The state-of-the-art helicopter, unveiled on Jan. 23, is the first one to be used by any law enforcement agency in the world.
"We take off from McClellan Airport and we literally pass over this school every day on the way out and every day on the way in," Van Dusen said. "I want you guys to be very, very proud of the name that you chose and wave to your helicopter every day when we fly over."
Additional names submitted:
- "Speedy" - because a helicopter catches bad guys fast (kindergarten submission)
- "Tiger" - brave and fierce, like the school mascot (kindergarten submission)
- "Orca" - because it's black and white and looks like a whale (fifth-grade submission)
- "The Flaming Hawk" - Sgt. Van Dusen said this one was a close second, because it sounded cool.
Fundraisers and tributes for slain Davis Police Officer Natalie Corona continue to grow. On Saturday a local brewery held a 7-hour fundraiser to raise money for the "Natalie Corona Memorial Fund" in her honor.