State police helicopter turned upside down before fatal crash

Bruno Cirelli
Agosto 13, 2017

Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates were aboard the Bell 407 helicopter when it crashed seven miles southwest of downtown Charlottesville at 4:50 p.m.

A Virginia State Police helicopter helping law enforcement officers monitor the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville crashed in Albemarle County on Saturday, killing the two people on board. "Their deaths are a tremendous loss to our agency and the Commonwealth". He is survived by his wife and two sons.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Geller said the aircraft was not the state police helicopter seen circling above Saturday's white nationalist rally in downtown Charlottesville, a gathering at which a auto was driven into a group of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring 19.

Cullen graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in May 1994 as a member of the 90th Basic Session.

The pilot, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen is the son of Loudon County Commissioner, Henry Cullen. He first joined the Virginia State Police Aviation Unit in 1999.

"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. "Jay Cullen had been flying me around for three-and-a-half years".

Trooper-Pilot Bates graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in August 2004 as a member of the 107th Basic Session. Berke was devoted to our entire family as part of our Executive Protective Unit team for the past three years. Our hearts go out to their wives and children, and we stand by to support them during this hard time. He had just transferred to the Aviation Unit as a Trooper-Pilot in July.

"These heroes were part of our family and we are simply heartbroken", McAuliffe said Saturday evening.

The double fatality crash of the chopper came after another death was reported and 34 people were injured in a day of clashes in Charlottesville between white nationalists and counter protesters.

Deputies say one person is in custody and another person is wanted after they broke into a home on Upward Road.

Stay on for developments in this story.

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