State police helicopter turned upside down before fatal crash — Witness

Honoring Virginia State Trooper Lt. H. Jay Cullen, died 8/12/2017 in a helicopter crash.

The Bell 407 helicopter was assisting public safety resources with the violent protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The pilot, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen is the son of Loudon County Commissioner, Henry Cullen. No one on the ground was injured.

Lt. Cullen graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in May 1994 as a member of the 90th Basic Session.

Just before the incident, thousands of white nationalists, neo-Confederates and right-wing protesters, as well as groups that oppose them, clashed during the "Unite the Right" rally at the Emancipation Park in the downtown.

"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.

"It lost some parts, [they] seemed to fly off, and then it came down relatively quickly", he added.

The US President Donald Trump has condemned hatred "on many sides" and "all that hate stands for" in the wake of reports of the violent gathering. In 2015, the Aviation Unit totaled 2,784 flight hours and assisted with 26 criminal arrests, 36 missing persons located and three escapee apprehensions.

Cullen was 48-years-old, and according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, he was a married father of two.

Trooper-Pilot Bates graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in August 2004 as a member of the 107th Basic Session.

Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Jay and Berke, both of whom were our close friends and trusted members of our team", McAuliffe said in a statement. The unit also employs three full-time mechanics for its fleet and exceeds minimum FAA maintenance requirements. "These heroes were a part of our family and we are simply heartbroken". He is survived by his wife and two children, a son and daughter. And at this time we do have two confirmed fatalities.

This is a developing story.

  • Leon Brazil