13 Agosto, 2017
A man who said he saw a Virginia State Police helicopter crash outside Charlottesville said it sounded like the helicopter experienced a mechanical problem before it fell to the ground killing the two men inside.
The helicopter was assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation in Charlottesville.
Virginia State Police confirmed that pilots Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, and Berke M.M. Bates, 40, of Quinton, died in the wreck.
Virginia State Police are investigating a helicopter crash in Albemarle County in which 2 Virginia State Police pilots died.
"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.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Jay and Berke, both of whom were our close friends and trusted members of our team", the statement said. The incident was caught on video, and a witness Sunday told a local news outlet that it sounded as if the chopper had a mechanical problem. Jay has flown us across the Commonwealth for more than three and a half years. "The unit fielded 3,008 flight requests in 2015". Our hearts go out to their wives and children, and we stand by to support them during this difficult time. Cullen is survived by his wife and two sons. "Berke was devoted to our entire family as part of our Executive Protective Unit team for the past three years", he said.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation at this time by state police, the FAA and NTSB.
Sources familiar with the operation said state police were filming the Charlottesville protests from the helicopter.
Trooper-Pilot Bates graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in August 2004 as a member of the 107th Basic Session.
Police were notified of the crash at 4:54 p.m.
Deputies say one person is in custody and another person is wanted after they broke into a home on Upward Road.
Stay on WAVY.com for developments in this story.