‘He was our world’: Neighborhood vigil held for VSP trooper killed in helicopter crash

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Lt. H. Jay Cullen died serving Virginia during a day of turmoil. Now, his friends, family and neighbors are remembering him in an unforgettable way.

The sound of worship songs and a sense of sadness filled the Bayhill Pointe neighborhood during a Wednesday night vigil for the fallen Virginia State Police trooper. He died tragically, along with Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates,  in a helicopter crash in Albemarle Saturday afternoon after monitoring a white nationalist protest in Charlottesville.

Virginia State Police Lt. H. Jay Cullen (left) and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates (right).

“My initial reaction, I just burst into tears,” Lt. Cullen’s neighbor of six years, Sue Sanders, told 8News. “I just couldn’t believe it. I was in the U.K. when I got the news and I felt very detached, so coming back to be with everybody who’s feeling the same way.”

Sue Sanders.

Other residents of the Bayhill Pointe neighborhood reflected on Lt. Cullen’s impact.

“He was out there trying to help with a crisis in our neighboring city of Charlottesville,” Dave Haas said.

“He’s a hero,” State Senator Amanda Chase added. “In the line of work that Jay does, he puts his life on the line for each of us every day.”

State Senator Amanda Chase.

Shades of blue shone all over the porches while mailboxes were decked out with blue ribbons. It’s how this community ‘backs the blue.’

A friend of Lt. Cullen’s family offered a few words on behalf of his wife, who struggled to find words of her own.

“Jay was our world, for our sons, Ryan and Max. Jay was a dad and my best friend. He was my soul mate and a best friend as well.”

Lt. Cullen’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday at Southside Church of the Nazarene in Chesterfield County. The service is slated to begin at 10 a.m.

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