The Virginia state police on Saturday were mourning the loss of a pilot and a trooper-pilot killed in the crash of a helicopter that had been monitoring a white nationalist and “alt right” rally in Charlottesville.
“Our state police and law enforcement family at-large are mourning this tragic outcome to an already challenging day,” Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. W. Steven Flaherty said in a statement after the crash shortly before 5 p.m.
The pilot of the Bell 407 helicopter, Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, 40, of Quinton, died at the scene of the crash southwest of Charlottesville, the state police said.
The pilots were helping with law enforcement efforts in Charlottesville, where a rally of white nationalists and “alt right” groups turned violent, before the crash, state police said.
There is no indication of foul play being a factor in the crash, state police said. The crash is under investigation by state police, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, state police said.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said both officers “were our close friends and trusted members of our team” and he said he was deeply saddened by their loss.
“Jay has flown us across the commonwealth for more than three and a half years. Berke was devoted to our entire family as part of our Executive Protective Unit team for the past three years,” McAuliffe said in a statement.