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2 State Troopers Dead After Helicopter Crash in Albemarle County

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scene near Old Farm Road where state police helicopter crashed, killing two people scene near Old Farm Road where state police helicopter crashed, killing two people
Lt. H. Jay Cullen of Midlothian Lt. H. Jay Cullen of Midlothian
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

Virginia State Police are mourning the loss of two members of an aviation team killed in a helicopter crash following Saturday's Unite the Right rally.

The Bell 407 helicopter went down in the woods along Old Farm Road in Albemarle County just before 5 p.m. Saturday.

The pilot, 48-year-old Lt. H. Jay Cullen of Midlothian, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, died at the scene.

No one on the ground was injured.

"We kind of saw a billow of smoke I guess above the trees over there.  My friend had just driven over, he was driving down 64 and he said he saw a large billow of smoke kind of come up as he was coming over,” Nan MacMillan, a neighbor, said.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

A state police spokesperson says there is no indication of foul play being a factor in the crash. The helicopter was part of the public safety response to the rally.

Virginia State Police Press Release:

VIRGINIA STATE POLICE MOURN THE LOSS OF AVIATION PERSONNEL
 
RICHMOND – Virginia State Police are investigating a helicopter crash in Albemarle County.

Shortly before 5 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 12), a Virginia State Police helicopter crashed into a wooded area near a residence on Old Farm Road.  The Bell 407 helicopter was assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation in Charlottesville.

The pilot, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, Va., and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, Va., died at the scene.

No one on the ground was injured.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation at this time by state police, the FAA and NTSB. There is no indication of foul play being a factor in the crash.

“Our state police and law enforcement family at-large are mourning this tragic outcome to an already challenging day,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Lieutenant Cullen was a highly-respected professional aviator and Trooper-Pilot Bates was a welcome addition to the Aviation Unit, after a distinguished assignment as a special agent with our Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Their deaths are a tremendous loss to our agency and the Commonwealth.”

Lieutenant Cullen graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in May 1994 as a member of the 90th Basic Session. He first joined the Virginia State Police Aviation Unit in 1999. Lieutenant Cullen is survived by his wife and two sons.

Trooper-Pilot Burkes would have turned 41 years old Sunday, Aug. 13. He graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in August 2004 as a member of the 107th Basic Session. He had just transferred to the Aviation Unit as a Trooper-Pilot in July. Trooper-Pilot Burkes is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of Governor Terry McAuliffe

Governor and First Lady McAuliffe Statement on Fallen Virginia State Police RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe released the following statement on the deaths of Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, both of the Virginia State Police:

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Jay and Berke, both of whom were our close friends and trusted members of our team. Jay has flown us across the commonwealth for more than three and a half years. Berke was devoted to our entire family as part of our Executive Protective Unit team for the past three years. This is a devastating loss for their families, the Virginia State Police, and the entire commonwealth. Our hearts go out to their wives and children, and we stand by to support them during this difficult time. These heroes were a part of our family and we are simply heartbroken.”