Downed Charlottesville Helicopter Kills Two, Cause Unknown


The pilot, Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, and trooper-pilot Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, flying a Bell 407 helicopter, died at the scene, according to state police.

Charlottesville, Va- A Virginia State Police helicopter crashed earlier today, 7 miles outside of Charlottesville, Viriginia. "Their deaths are a tremendous loss to our agency and the Commonwealth", Flaherty said.

The two victims were the only people on board the helicopter and there were no injuries to anyone on the ground, state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said.

Geller said the aircraft was not the state police helicopter seen circling above Saturday's white nationalist rally in downtown Charlottesville, a gathering at which a vehicle was driven into a group of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring 19.

Bates was recruited by the Virginia State Police from Florida, his father said, where he distinguished himself as a highway patrolman by rescuing a young girl who had been kidnapped.

Lieutenant Cullen graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in May 1994 as a member of the 90 Basic Session.

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The pilot, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen is the son of Loudon County Commissioner, Henry Cullen. Berke Bates, who would have turned 41 Sunday, was just beginning to realize a lifelong dream of becoming a helicopter pilot.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Jay and Berke, both of whom were our close friends and trusted members of our team", McAuliffe said in a statement.

He went through his second round of law-enforcement training at the Virginia State Police Academy, graduating with the 107th Basic Session in August 2004. Berke was devoted to our entire family as part of our Executive Protective Unit team for the past three years. He had just transferred to the Aviation Unit as a Trooper-Pilot in July. He is survived by his wife and two children, a son and daughter. These heroes were a part of our family and we are simply heartbroken.

The crash happened just a few hours after a vehicle plowed into a crowd of people peacefully protesting against the white nationalist rally.

One of the troopers was a veteran law enforcement officer with more than two decades as a Virginia state trooper.

Stay on for developments in this story.

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