Notable Deaths ›

H. Jay Cullen

image via Virginia State Police

H. Jay Cullen

H. Jay Cullen, a Virginia State Police officer, died Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, during helicopter surveillance of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, when the helicopter crashed in a residential area near the University of Virginia campus. He was 48.

Cullen had nearly 20 years of experience flying helicopters and airplanes for the department’s aviation unit.

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

Cullen was promoted to commander of the aviation unit in February. He had been flying Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe around the state for more than three years.

“The two state troopers we lost yesterday was personal to me,” McAuliffe told the congregation of the First Baptist Church of Charlottesville Sunday. “We were very close.”

Cullen graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in 1994 and joined the Virginia State Police aviation unit in 1999.

Henry Cullen, Jay’s father, said that his son texted him during the protest and told him “it was an absolute mess.” He went on to say his son told him that he had been assigned to work the rally and would do his job.

“Jay was the greatest son a person could ever have, a great father to his two sons, a loving husband to his wife, Karen,” Henry Cullen said, “and he was doing something that he loved.”

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