Two Police Helicopter Pilots Killed While Assisting After Deadly Virginia Wreck

A violent series of events surrounding a white nationalist rally turned deadly when a car plowed into a group of anti-racist marchers.

Dozens were treated for injuries altogether, 19 of whom were injured by the car crash.

The suspected driver, James Alex Fields Jr., fatally struck a 32-year-old woman, who has not been officially identified, according to The Associated Press.

Shortly after violence erupted in Charlottesville, two police officers were en route to provide the city with public safety backup, when their helicopter crashed around 5 p.m., Saturday. Pilot Lt. H. Jay Cullen, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, died at the scene.

In a statement, Virginia State Police said the helicopter was “assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation” before falling into a wooded area, in Albemarle County, where Charlottesville is located.

State police, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board continue to investigate the cause of the crash, with “no indication of foul play being a factor.”

Virginia State Police Superintendent Colonel W. Steven Flaherty shared his condolences in the department’s statement.

“Our state police and law enforcement family at-large are mourning this tragic outcome to an already challenging day,” he said. “Their deaths are a tremendous loss to our agency and the Commonwealth,” he added.

Lt. H. Jay Cullen of Midlothian, Va., “was a highly-respected professional aviator,” Flaherty said.

Cullen, 48, graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in 1994 as a member of the 90th Basic Session. He went on to join the Virginia State Police Aviation Unit in 1999. He’s survived by his wife and two sons.

Fellow trooper Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, Va., would have turned 41 years old Sunday, police said.

Bates had just joined the Aviation Unit, in July, “a welcome addition,” Flaherty said, “after a distinguished assignment as a special agent with our Bureau of Criminal Investigation.”

In 2004, he graduated from the state police academy as a member of the 107th Basic Session. Bates is survived by his wife, son and daughter.

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