RICHMOND, Va. (AP/WRIC) — Hundreds of mourners gathered Saturday for the funeral of a Virginia state trooper who died in the fatal crash of a helicopter that had been monitoring a violent, white nationalist protest in Charlottesville.
Family, friends, political leaders and police officers from around the country honored Lt. Jay Cullen at Southside Church of the Nazarene near Richmond.
Cullen, who was head of the state police’s aviation unit, was remembered a safety conscious perfectionist who loved being a trooper and flying.
“I think he loved it every single day he was there,” said Will Payne, a longtime friend.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe called Cullen, who frequently piloted the governor around the state in a police helicopter, a “silent giant.” State Police Superintendent Col. Steven Flaherty was a man of “unwavering integrity.”
Authorities say Cullen was the pilot of a helicopter providing video to police of activities in downtown Charlottesville last Saturday before it broke off to lend support to a motorcade for the governor. An investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.
Cullen, 48, joined the aviation unit in 1999. He’s survived by a wife and two sons.
The funeral for the other trooper killed in the crash, Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates, was held Friday.