Virginia State Police, friends & family mourn the death of 2 pilots

Images courtesy of Virginia State Police

RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia State Police is mourning the loss of its 64th and 65th members to die in the line of duty since 1932. Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, 40, died last Saturday (Aug. 12, 2017) when the helicopter they were piloting crashed in Albemarle County. Funeral arrangements for both are still pending at this time.

Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen (1969 – 2017)

Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen (1969 – 2017). Image courtesy of Virginia State Police.

Lieutenant Cullen was born in Winchester County, N.Y., and graduated from Germantown High School in Memphis, Tenn., in 1987. Prior to joining the Virginia State Police in 1993, he worked as a flight instructor in Front Royal, Va. and Winchester, Va. He held a bachelor’s degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

He graduated from the Virginia State Police Training Academy as a member of the 90th Basic Session on May 13, 1994. His first patrol assignment upon graduation was in Virginia State Police Fairfax Division’s Area 9 Office in Fairfax. In 1999, he joined the Aviation Unit as a Trooper-Pilot at the Virginia State Police Aviation Base in Manassas and has been assigned to Aviation Unit ever since.

The following year he was transferred to the Lynchburg Aviation Base, where in 2003 he achieved the rank of Senior Trooper. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 2005 and assumed his new role at the Virginia State Police Aviation Base in Chesterfield County.

In 2007, he was named acting First Sergeant at the Chesterfield base. He was promoted to the rank of First Sergeant in 2012 and then became acting Lieutenant at the base that December.

He is a 2014 graduate of the National Criminal Justice Command College at the University of Virginia. In February 2017, he attained the rank of Lieutenant and became commander of the Aviation Unit.

Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates (1976 – 2017)   

Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates (1976 – 2017). Image courtesy of Virginia State Police.

Trooper-Pilot Bates was born in Manassas, Va. and graduated from Brentsville District Middle-Senior High School in Nokesville, Va. in 1994. He served as a Trooper with the Florida Highway Patrol from 1998 until he joined the Virginia State Police in 2004. He graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy on August 27, 2004 as a member of the 107th Basic Session.

His first assignment was in Virginia State Police Richmond Division’s Area 8 Office, which encompasses the City of Richmond and Henrico County. Less than a year later he became a member of the office’s Motors Unit, serving as a motorcycle trooper until 2013. He joined the Governor’s protection detail, known as the State Police Executive Protective Unit, in October 2013 and served with the unit for three years before accepting promotion to Special Agent with the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Richmond Field Office General Investigations Section. In July 2017, he became a Trooper-Pilot with the Virginia State Police Aviation Unit.

Trooper Bates is survived by his wife and twin 12-year-old son and daughter.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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