2 officers killed in helicopter crash near violent white nationalist rally

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Trooper Berke M.M. Bates and the pilot, Lt. Jay Cullen, 48, died Saturday when the Virginia State Police helicocpter went down outside Charlottesville.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Two police personnel were killed Saturday when a helicopter crashed seven miles southwest of Charlottesville, Virginia, where violent clashes erupted at the site of a white nationalist rally.

Virginia State Police said Saturday that the helicopter crashed in a wooded area near a home around 5 p.m.
The National Transportation Safety Board and state authorities are investigating the crash.

The pilot, Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, and trooper-pilot Berke M.M. Bates died at the scene. No one on the ground was injured.

Officials said  the incident was linked to the rally held earlier in the day; although they added that no foul play was suspected in the crash.

"Our state police and law enforcement family at-large are mourning this tragic outcome to an already challenging day," said Col. W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police superintendent in a news release. "Lt. 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."

Cullen graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in May 1994 as a member of the 90th Basic Session, he is survived by his wife and two sons.

Burks would have turned 41-years-old on Sunday graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in August 2004 as a member of the 107th Basic Session and just transferred to the Aviation Unit in July.

 

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