Posted with permission from BNO News
A Virginia State Police helicopter which was monitoring the protests in Charlottesville has crashed in a wooded area on the outskirts of the city, killing both occupants, officials say. The cause was not immediately known. (more)


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The accident happened at about 4:50 p.m. ET on Saturday when the Bell 407 aircraft flew over a residential area at a low altitude and went down in a wooded area. It happened near 43 Old Farm Road in Charlottesville, which is close to the Birdwood Golf Course.

Both occupants were killed in the crash. They were identified as 48-year-old pilot Lt. H. Jay Cullen from Midlothian and 40-year-old trooper/pilot Berke M.M. Bates from Quinton. There were no injuries on the ground.

"The Bell 407 helicopter was assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation in Charlottesville," state police said in a statement. "The cause of the crash remains under investigation .. there is no indication of foul play being a factor in the crash."

Both the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are investigating the cause of the crash.

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

President Donald Trump also expressed his condolences, writing on Twitter: "Deepest condolences to the families [and] fellow officers of the VA State Police who died today. You're all among the best this nation produces."

The city of Charlottesville has been the scene of a white nationalist rally, leading to violent clashes. A car slammed into counter-protesters about three hours before the helicopter crash, killing a woman and injuring 19 others.

To read more about the protests, click here.