Downed Charlottesville Helicopter Kills Two, Cause Unknown

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Ted Goodman Contributor
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Virginia State Police (VSP) released the names of two deceased aviation personnel after a helicopter crashed Saturday just outside of Charlottesville, Va.

Shortly before 5 p.m., a VSP helicopter went down in a wooded area near a residence in a sleepy neighborhood on the outskirts of the city.

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

“Our state police and law enforcement family at-large are mourning this tragic outcome to an already challenging day,” Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent, said in the 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. Their deaths are a tremendous loss to our agency and the Commonwealth,” Flaherty said.

The Daily Caller News Foundation was the first media outlet on scene, and heard from eyewitness accounts as stunned neighbors made their way to the crash site.

Robby Noll, a 20-year resident of a neighborhood where the accident reportedly happened, told TheDCNF that the helicopter went down quickly and appeared to “invert.”

“I heard a helicopter making a strange noise,” Noll told TheDCNF late Saturday afternoon. “It sounded like it was having mechanical problems.”

“The poor pilot looked to be trying to regain control, and it appeared to invert,” Noll continued. “As it started coming down, pieces started coming off of it.”

A second eyewitness said that the helicopter crashed 15 yards in front of a home.

“It went down relatively quick,” Noll concluded.

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