Two police officers dead after helicopter crash in Charlottesville

"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".

Bates has family living in Knoxville.

The incident happened shortly before 5 p.m. Saturday when the helicopter crashed into a wooded area near a residence on Old Farm Road.

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Jay Cullen, 48, (l.), and Berke M.M. Bates, 40, (r.) died in a helicopter crash while monitoring the violent clashes in Charlottesville.

Deepest condolences to the families & fellow officers of the VA State Police who died today.

"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. "Their deaths are a tremendous loss to our agency and the Commonwealth". The Trooper-Pilots are trained in-house on VSP aircraft, which include four Bell 407 helicopters, two American Eurocopter EC145 helicopters, and three Cessna fixed-wing aircraft. Cullen is survived by his wife and two sons. The unit also employs three full-time mechanics for its fleet and exceeds minimum FAA maintenance requirements. He had just transferred to the Aviation Unit as a Trooper-Pilot in July. Our hearts go out to their wives and children, and we stand by to support them during this difficult time.

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Sources familiar with the operation said state police were filming the Charlottesville protests from the helicopter. CNN reports that the cause of the crash is still being investigated, but that no foul play is suspected. These heroes were a part of our family and we are simply heartbroken. He first joined the Virginia State Police Aviation Unit in 1999. One person was killed and at least two dozen were hurt.

Law enforcement, firefighters and other observers gathered on overpasses along the interstate to honor the troopers.

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