2 officers killed in helicopter crash near violent white nationalist rally

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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