Trooper Pilot Berke Morgan Matthew Bates

Trooper Pilot Berke Morgan Matthew Bates

Virginia State Police, Virginia

End of Watch Saturday, August 12, 2017

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Berke Morgan Matthew Bates

Trooper Pilot Berke Bates and Lieutenant Pilot Jay Cullen were killed when their Bell 407 helicopter crashed into a wooded area in a residential neighborhood on Old Farm Road in Albemarle County, Virginia, at approximately 6:30 pm.

They were in the area to monitor civil unrest that was occurring in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a large protest. The helicopter had just taken off to monitor the Virginia governor's motorcade after he arrived in the area to assess the situation. The helicopter experienced some sort of issue before crashing into the trees and becoming engulfed in flames.

Trooper Bates and Lieutenant Cullen were killed in the crash.

Trooper Bates had served with the Virginia State Police for 13 years and was assigned to the Aviation Unit. He had previously served with the Florida Highway Patrol for six years. He is survived by his wife and his twin son and daughter. He was killed the day before his 41st birthday.


  • Age 40
  • Tour 19 years
  • Badge 764

Incident Details

  • Cause Aircraft accident

civil unrest

Most Recent Reflection

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To the Bates family:

I am a retired Detective from the Juneau Alaska Police Department, and currently on the Alaska Governor Security Detail.

I was both shocked and saddened to hear of Berke’s death. I first met Berke about 5 years ago in Austin, Texas while attending the Texas DPS Dignitary Protection school. At that time Berke was assigned to the Governor Detail with SC Troopers. I instantly liked Berke, as his sense of humor was unique and appealed to my nature. (At the training Berke had nicknamed me “Baked Alaska” due to the 110 degree heat).

We crossed each other’s paths a few more times at NGA Confrences in Washington DC. Each time we met, I knew Berke to have always had a smile, a laugh, a serious “all business” side and a wickedly unique sense of humor. He seemed the sort of man I would have truly enjoyed working with - although I believe had we done so, his and my sense of humor would have landed us in some Captains office somewhere getting our butts chewed...and am sure we’d be giggling like schoolboys as the frustrated Captain did so. (Command Staff just don’t understand being “unique” enriches a department...)

I grieve for your loss and wish I had the words to better express my heartfelt condolences. Be assured Berke is fondly remembered and missed all the way up in Alaska.

Detective Kenneth Jennings
Alaska Governor Security Detail

September 13, 2018

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