Virginia State Police mourn loss of aviation personnel

Virginia State Police are investigating a helicopter crash in Albemarle County.

Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen of Midlothian, Virginia, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, Virginia, died when their helicopter crashed on Aug. 12. Virginia State Police Photos
Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen of Midlothian, Virginia, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, Virginia, died when their helicopter crashed on Aug. 12. Virginia State Police Photos
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Shortly before 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12, a Virginia State Police helicopter crashed into a wooded area near a residence on Old Farm Road. The Bell 407 helicopter was assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation in Charlottesville.

The pilot, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, Virginia, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, Virginia, died at the scene. No one on the ground was injured.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation at this time by state police, the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board. There is no indication of foul play being a factor in the crash.

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“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. “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.”

Lieutenant Cullen 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. Lieutenant Cullen is survived by his wife and two sons.

Trooper-Pilot Bates would have turned 41 years old Sunday, Aug. 13. 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. Trooper-Pilot Bates is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

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