On Saturday, counter-protesters and white nationalists clashed at an alt-right rally called “Unite the Right “in Charlottesville, Va. One person and at least 19 more were injured when a car plowed through a group of counter-protesters, and two Virginia state troopers were killed when their helicopter crashed while monitoring the protests. Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates were “assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation in Charlottesville” when their aircraft went down, a police statement read. Lt. H. Jay Cullen was the pilot.
Their helicopter crashed in a wooded residential area around 5 p.m. Saturday while they were patrolling the unfolding events in Charlottesville. CNN reports that the cause of the crash is still being investigated, but that no foul play is suspected.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe was a personal friend of the men. In a statement, McAuliffe said,
Honoring Virginia State Trooper Lt. H. Jay Cullen, died 8/12/2017 in a helicopter crash. Honor him so he is not forgotten. pic.twitter.com/R3CrRchjW0
CBS News reports that Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. W. Steven Flaherty also released a statement. “Our state police and law enforcement family at-large are mourning this tragic outcome to an already challenging day,” Flaherty said.
“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.”
Cullen was 48-years-old, and according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, he was a married father of two. He had served with the Virginia State Police for 23 years.
On Saturday, President Trump shared his thoughts about the crash on Twitter.
Deepest condolences to the families & fellow officers of the VA State Police who died today. You’re all among the best this nation produces.
The Officer Down Memorial Page lists the following contact for those looking to send condolences or find out more information about funeral arrangements:
Colonel W. Steven Flaherty
Virginia State Police
7700 Midlothian Turnpike
North Chesterfield, VA 23235
Phone: (804) 674-2843
State police have said that there’s “no indication of foul play being a factor in the crash.”