Virginia State Police helicopter crashes in Charlottesville

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A Virginia State Police helicopter which was monitoring the protests in Charlottesville has crashed in a wooded area on the outskirts of the city, killing both occupants, officials say. The cause was not immediately known.

The accident happened at about 4:50 p.m. ET on Saturday when the Bell 407 aircraft flew over a residential area at a low altitude and went down in a wooded area. It happened near 43 Old Farm Road in Charlottesville, which is close to the Birdwood Golf Course.

A total of two people were on board the aircraft, according to Jim Peters, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). A statement from Virginia State Police confirmed that both occupants were killed in the crash.

“No one on the ground was injured,” state police added in a brief statement. “The cause of the crash remains under investigation at this time. State police are on scene with Albemarle County police and fire units.”

Both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate the cause of the crash.

“Deepest condolences to the families [and] fellow officers of the VA State Police who died today,” President Donald Trump said on his Twitter account, adding: “You’re all among the best this nation produces.”

The city of Charlottesville has been the scene of a white nationalist rally, leading to violent clashes. A car slammed into counter-protesters earlier about three hours before the helicopter crash, killing a woman and injuring 19 others.

As a result of the protests, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency.

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