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Helicopter crash near Charlottesville rally kills two Virginia cops

One was a veteran law enforcement officer with more than two decades as a Virginia state trooper. The other was a pilot who transferred to the state police aviation unit last month and was one day away from his 41st birthday.

Both Virginia State Police troopers died Saturday when their police helicopter crashed and burned in Charlottesville, as they patrolled near the site of clashes between white nationalists and counterprotesters.

State police identified the victims as pilot Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, 40. Both men died at the scene.

Their helicopter was "assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation in Charlottesville," according to a police statement.

The aircraft crashed in a wooded area near a residence just before 5 p.m. No one on the ground was injured, and officials are still investigating the cause of the crash.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he and the first lady considered both men their close friends. He said they were "deeply saddened" by the deaths.

"Jay has flown us across the commonwealth for more than three and a half years," McAuliffe said in a statement. "Berke was

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