The Associated Press later reported that "Officials say the deaths of two people in a helicopter crash near Charlottesville, Virginia, have been linked to a violent white nationalist rally earlier in the day". Jay has flown us across the Commonwealth for more than three and a half years.
The horrific helicopter crash occurred a few hours after a speeding Dodge Challenger accelerated and slammed into two other cars that hit dozens of counter-protesters.
National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said the cause of the crash had not been determined.
The helicopter pilot, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, Virginia, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, 40, of Quinton, Virginia, died at the scene of the crash in Albemarle County, the state police said in a statement included in a Twitter message sent by NBC29 of Charlottesville.
Virginia Sate Police have identified the two troopers killed in a helicopter crash on Saturday.
He had just transferred to the Aviation Unit as a trooper-pilot in July, the release said.
"This is the job he always wanted, which was flying", said Robert Bates, 80, who flew planes for the Navy and had helped his son learn the basics. But his son told him that he had been assigned to work the rally and would do his job.
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Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen.
Bates was recruited by the Virginia State Police from Florida, his father said, where he distinguished himself as a highway patrolman by rescuing a young girl who had been kidnapped.
Bates met his wife, Amanda, in Florida; they were married in Richmond and have twin 11-year-olds, a boy and a girl. He graduated from Brentsville District High School in 1994, then followed in his older brother's footsteps to the University of Tennessee, where both played hockey.
In a small-world aside, Craig Bates - who now lives in Knoxville, Tennessee along with his parents - learned that Cullen's father also lives in the Knoxville area. Instead, they traveled there for his memorial service.
Police pause along I-64 to remember fallen troopers. "I miss you, Berke". The NTSB is sending investigators to the scene, he said.
"It just breaks our heart", McAuliffe said.