Exclusive: family of youngest Coast Guard crash victim talks about loss

Petty Officer Joshua Nichols
Petty Officer Joshua Nichols
Danielle Nichols
Danielle Nichols
James Nichols
James Nichols

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

EWA BEACH (KHNL) - The youngest victim of Thursday's Coast Guard helicopter crash was 27 years old. Joshua Nichols and his wife welcomed their baby boy just two-and-a-half months ago.

Coast Guard officials arrive at the Nichols home. It's the kind of visit no one ever wants.

In the garage, Petty Officer Joshua Nichols' love for surfing is clear.

"This past weekend, we went surfing and we caught the same wave. We were surfing right next to each other," James Nichols, the victim's brother, said through tears. "And he had the biggest grin on his face."

Before he reported to work Thursday, the 27-year-old made lunch for his wife and told her he loved her. Danielle Nichols described her husband as an amazing person, who died doing what he loved.

"He loved his job," she said through tears. "And he loved, you know, that opportunity to just go out and save somebody."

It's a job James Nichols took on because he always wanted to follow in his older brother's footsteps.

"When I graduated high school, he was like, you know, the Guard's a good deal, man," the 22-year-old recalled. "He's like you save people. He's like it's good, man."

James was at work Thursday, when the rescue call came in.

"Walking out and getting ready, somebody said it was ours," he said through tears. "I couldn't believe it."

Danielle, a former Coast Guard member herself, says she was never afraid of the job or of flying. She says their son, Ty, will grow up knowing what a hero his dad was.

"Everybody, you know, that serves is just amazing. I mean, they put themselves out there with this risk to save other people," she said. "We just lost somebody very special."

The Coast Guard has set up a fund to raise money for the families of those killed in the crash. To find out more, click here or go to the link on this page.