Virginia troopers killed in Charlottesville helicopter crash have Tennessee ties

People fly into the air as a vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville Va

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.

The pair were among three people who authorities said died in connection with the violence near the main campus of the University of Virginia.

The pilot, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, Va., and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, Va., died at the scene. In addition to the deaths of the troopers and one other identified person, at least 34 people were injured in the vehicle ramming and other violence.

Virginia State Police stated, "formally established January 1, 1984, the Virginia State Police Aviation Unit's primary mission is to provide aircraft for search, rescue, law enforcement and medical evacuation missions through its three Aviation Bases located in Chesterfield County, Lynchburg and Abingdon".

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. The NTSB is sending investigators to the scene, he said.

He joined the Virginia State Police Aviation Unit in 1999. Cullen is survived by his wife and two sons. He graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in August 2004 as a member of the 107th Basic Session. Lt. H. Jay Cullen was the pilot.

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Trooper-Pilot Burkes would have turned 41 years old Sunday, Aug. 13. He had served with the Virginia State Police for 23 years. The Trooper-Pilots are trained in-house on VSP aircraft, which include four Bell 407 helicopters, two American Eurocopter EC145 helicopters, and three Cessna fixed-wing aircraft.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Jay and Berke, both of whom were our close friends and trusted members of our team", the statement said. These heroes were a part of our family and we are simply heartbroken.

Earlier in the day, a vehicle rammed into a crowd of counter protesters.

Cullen was a lieutenant who graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in May 1994 as a member of the 90th Basic Session, according to a press release.

This is a developing story.

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