State Police lieutenant, trooper-pilot killed in helicopter crash identified

State Police lieutenant, trooper-pilot killed in helicopter crash identified
Lt. H. Jay Cullen (Source: VA State Police)
Lt. H. Jay Cullen (Source: VA State Police)
Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates (Source: VA State Police)
Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates (Source: VA State Police)

ALBEMARLE, VA (WWBT) - Virginia State Police confirmed that Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, died in Saturday's helicopter crash near Charlottesville.

The helicopter was assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation in Charlottesville, State Police said Saturday night.

"Our state police and law enforcement family at-large are mourning this tragic outcome to an already challenging day," said Col. W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. "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. Their deaths are a tremendous loss to our agency and the Commonwealth."

Cullen, of Midlothian, graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in May 1994 as a member of the 90th Basic Session. He first joined the Virginia State Police Aviation Unit in 1999. Cullen is survived by his wife and two sons. He was 48.

Bates, of Quinton, would have turned 41 years old Sunday. He graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in August 2004 as a member of the 107th Basic Session. He had just transferred to the Aviation Unit as a Trooper-Pilot in July. Bates is survived by his wife and twin 12-year-old son and daughter.

The two were the 64th and 65th members to die in the line of duty since 1932.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffie issued this statement:

We are deeply saddened by the loss of Jay and Berke, both of whom were our close friends and trusted members of our team. 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.

This is a devastating loss for their families, the Virginia State Police, and the entire commonwealth. Our hearts go out to their wives and children, and we stand by to support them during this difficult time. These heroes were a part of our family and we are simply heartbroken.

In a tweet Saturday after the crash, President Donald Trump wrote:

Deepest condolences to the families & fellow officers of the VA State Police who died today. You're all among the best this nation produces.

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford), Speaker-designee Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), Majority Leader-designee Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), Caucus Chairman Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax), and Majority Whip Jackson Miller (R-Manassas) released the following joint statement Saturday on the deaths:

We join our fellow Virginians mourning for the two Virginia State Police Troopers who lost their lives in service to the Commonwealth. We pray for their families and colleagues, and grieve over the needlessness of their deaths. The brave men and women of the Virginia State Police, local law enforcement, and the Virginia National Guard are heroes who represent the true character of our Commonwealth.

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