The two Virginia State troopers who were killed in a helicopter crash while monitoring Saturday’s white supremacist rally have been identified.
Pilot Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, 40, of Quinton, died at the scene on Old Farm Road, seven miles southwest of Charlottesville.
Lieutenant Cullen graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in May 1994 and joined the Virginia State Police Unit in 1999, the Daily Progress reported. Cullen is survived by his wife and two sons.
One day shy of his 41st birthday, Trooper-Pilot Bates graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in August 2004 and transferred to the Aviation Unit in July. Bates is survived by his wife and 11-year old twins.
Both officers were viewed as vital assets to the community, with many state officials expressing their grief Saturday.
“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.
“This is a devastating loss for their families, the Virginia State Police, and the entire Commonwealth,” said Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe Saturday, who knew both men well, “these heroes were a part of our family and we are simply heartbroken.”
President Trump also tweeted his condolences.
“Deepest condolences to the families & fellow officers of the VA State Police who died today. You’re all among the best this nation produces,” read the post on Trump’s Twitter page.
The crash is currently under investigation by Virginia State Police, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, but there is no indication of foul play.
Stay tuned to WUVA for more updates on this developing story.