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State Police identify pilot, passenger killed in helicopter crash in Charlottesville

The pilot, identified as Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, and the passenger, identified as Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, died at the scene (Photos: VA State Police)

UPDATE: 8:45 p.m.

State Police have identified the pilot and passenger killed in a state police helicopter crash on Old Farm Rd. in Albemarle County on Saturday.

Police said the Bell 407 helicopter was was assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation in Charlottesville.

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

The FAA and NTSB is investigating the cause of the crash; there is no indication of foul play being a factor.

“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.”

Lt. 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.

Trooper-Pilot Bates would have turned 41-years-old on Sunday. He 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.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe and his wife, Dorothy, have issued a statement calling the loss of the two troopers devastating.

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UPDATE: 6 p.m.

FAA confirms that two people were killed after a state police helicopter crashed in Charlottesville around 5 p.m. Saturday.

Officials said the deaths have been linked to a violent white nationalist rally earlier in the day, The Associated Press reported.

It was not immediately clear how the crash was connected to the rally. Corinne Geller, a Virignia State Police spokeswoman, says the pilot and a passenger were killed in the crash Saturday afternoon.

State Police said no one on the ground was injured and the cause of the crash is under investigation.


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ALBERMARLE Co., Va. (WSET) -- Emergency crews are on the scene of a helicopter crash in Albemarle County.

Officials are on the scene of Old Farm Rd., near the Birdwood Golf Course in Charlottesville.

Virginia State Police confirmed it was one of their helicopters that went down.

The FAA confirmed that it crashed about seven miles southwest of Charlottesville around 4:50 p.m. and two people were on board.

It's not clear if anyone is injured or how the crash occurred.

This is a breaking news story, check back for updates.

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