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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - A state police helicopter flying above a clash between protesters crashed Saturday near a golf course in the Virginia woods, killing two people on board, police said.
Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Burke M.M. Bates were killed in the crash, Virginia State Police said.
“(The helicopter) was assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation,” state police said in a statement when it crashed around 4:50 p.m. near the Birdwood Golf Course. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
Helicopter crash fully involved believed to be VSP Helicopter working the protest but agency not confirmed.— VPFF President Bragg (@Hoosff) August 12, 2017
FAA: "A Bell 407 helicopter crashed seven miles southwest of Charlottesville at about 4:50 pm today." pic.twitter.com/q5ZX6hImrs— Dan Linden (@DanLinden) August 12, 2017
No one on the ground was injured.
The crash happened just a couple hours after a car plowed into a crowd of people.
Cullen graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in 1994. He joined the avaiation unit in 1999. He is survived by a wife and two sons.
Bates graduated from the academy in 2004 and had transferred to the aviation unit in July. He would have turned 41 Sunday. He is survived by a wife, a son and daughter.
“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.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates. The Associated Press contributed to this report.