Virginia State Police helicopter crash in Charlottesville claims 2 lives

- A helicopter crashed seven miles southwest of Charlottesville just before 5 p.m. on Saturday, claiming two lives.

The two victims, the pilot, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, Va., and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Batesof Quinton, Va., died at the scene according to Virginia State Police.

Lieutenant Cullen graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in May 1994 as a member of the 90th Basic Session. He first joined the Virginia State Police Aviation Unit in 1999. Lieutenant Cullen is survived by his wife and two sons.

Trooper-Pilot Burkes would have turned 41 years old Sunday, Aug. 13. He graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in August 2004 as a member of the 107th Basic Session. He had just transferred to the Aviation Unit as a Trooper-Pilot in July.

No one on the ground was injured.

The Bell 407 helicopter went down in a wooded area near a residence on Old Farm Road in Albemarle County, Virginia State Police say.

Officials say the deaths of two people in a helicopter crash near Charlottesville, Virginia, have been linked to a violent white nationalist rally earlier in the day.
 
It was not immediately clear how the crash was connected to the rally.

The helicopter was assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation in Charlottesville.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation at this time by state police, the FAA and NTSB. There is no indication of foul play being a factor in the crash.
 

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