Virginia State Police helicopter crashes near Charlottesville, witnesses say

Frederick Owens
August 19, 2017

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

We're so, so sad to have to report this - more deaths are coming in from this weekend's horrific white nationalist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia.

There was no distress signal before it crashed on Saturday, accident investigators said.

WAVY is reporting that the two people aboard that helicopter were state troopers.

ABC News reported that the crash occurred only seven miles from Charlottesville. NTSB said the probable cause of the crash was faulty maintenance, and noted that the shop that had made repairs to the helicopter was not authorized to do such work, which involved the replacement of a deflector plate. Cullen is survived by his wife and two sons.

In a press release identifying the victims, authorities said the helicopter was assisting in efforts in Charlottesville.

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For anyone wishing to support the Cullen and/or Bates families financially, donations are being accepted through the Virginia State Police Association Emergency Relief Fund (VSPA-ERF) at

He first joined the Virginia State Police Aviation Unit in 1999.

"The NTSB and the Virginia State Police are interviewing witnesses who reported seeing the helicopter in flight shortly before the crash", the NTSB said in a statement.

"He had just been there for about three weeks before the accident happened and he would have turned 41 Sunday". He had just transferred to the Aviation Unit as a Trooper-Pilot in July.

Both troopers are being considered casualties of the Charlottesville violence because they were on duty monitoring the protests from the air.

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