Virginia State Police mourn the loss of two killed 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)

RICHMOND, Va. (WSET) – Virginia State Police say the helicopter crash that killed two officers Saturday day is being investigated.

The National Transportation Safety Board, FBI, and the Federal Aviation Administration are also investigating.

The helicopter went down Saturday at 4:51 p.m. in a wooded area on Old Farm Road in Albemarle County.

Officials say the helicopter was assisting public safety resources with the Unite the Right rally that was happening in Charlottesville.

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

State Police say Lt. Cullen was the Aviation Unit Commander, and he was promoted to that position in February.

They say Trooper-Pilot Bates had just transferred to Aviation Unit in July from the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Bates would have been 41 Sunday, police say.

Formally established Jan. 1, 1984, the Virginia State Police Aviation Unit’s primary mission is to provide aircraft for search, rescue, law enforcement and medical evacuation missions through its three Aviation Bases located in Chesterfield County, Lynchburg and Abingdon. The unit is staffed by Trooper-Pilots, all of whom are sworn members of the Department, are qualified “Police Pilots,” and have private pilots’ licenses. 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. The unit also employs three full-time mechanics for its fleet and exceeds minimum FAA maintenance requirements. In 2015, the Aviation Unit totaled 2,784 flight hours and assisted with 26 criminal arrests, 36 missing persons located and three escapee apprehensions. The unit fielded 3,008 flight requests in 2015.

Med-Flight/Medevac – operates from the Chesterfield and Abingdon bases with operation costs shared with our healthcare partners: VCU Medical Center, Chesterfield County Fire and EMS, Wellmont Health Systems, Colonial Heights Fire and Rescue, Henrico County Fire and Rescue, and City of Bristol, Virginia Police. In 2015, a total of 844 patients were flown by Med-Flight helicopters out of the two bases.


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