Two Virginia state troopers assisting Charlottesville protest response die in helicopter accident

iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- Two Virginia State Police officers who were assisting in the response to the violence surrounding a planned white nationalist rally in Charlottesville died Saturday afternoon after their helicopter crashed seven miles southwest of the city.

The officers were traveling in a Virginia State Police helicopter "assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation in Charlottesville," according to a spokesperson for the state police, where a confrontation between white nationalists and counter-protesters turned violent in city streets.

Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates died at the scene, said the state police.

The Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board and Virginia State Police are all investigating the crash, which took place in a wooded area. There were no injuries on the ground from the accident.

“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 in a statement. “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.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.


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