ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. -- Two state troopers are confirmed dead in a helicopter crash into a wooded area near a residence on Old Farm Road.
No one on the ground was injured, said Virginia State Police in an email release. The crash happened shortly before 5 p.m., with two confirmed fatalities.
President Trump stated that the two victims were state troopers in a tweet shortly after 7 p.m. A spokesperson for the VSP confirmed this a few hours later, and identified the deceased as Lieutenant Jay Cullen, 48, and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates, who would have turned 41 on Sunday.
“Our state police and law enforcement family at-large are mourning this tragic outcome to an already challenging day,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Lieutenant Cullen was a highly-respected professional aviator and Trooper-Pilot Bates was a welcome addition to the Aviation Unit, after a distinguished assignment as a special agent with our Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Their deaths are a tremendous loss to our agency and the Commonwealth.”
The helicopter was assisting public safety resources after a day of protests and violence in Charlottesville. There is no consensus yet on what caused the crash, and it continues to be investigated by the FAA and NTSB. VSP said foul play is not indicated.