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VSP helicopter involved in fatal crash was heavily damaged in 2010: sources

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. -- The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced Monday that there was no distress call prior to a Virginia State Police helicopter crashing in Albemarle County on Saturday afternoon.

The pilot, Lt. H. Jay Cullen of Midlothian, Va., and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, Va., died at the scene.

Sources tell CBS 6 that the Virginia State Police helicopter, a Bell 407, is the same chopper that was badly damaged after losing power and crash landing in Abingdon, Virginia in 2010.

Neither the pilot nor the co-pilot was injured during the rough landing.

On Saturday, the helicopter left Charlottesville airport at 3:54 p.m. and was flying over the Charlottesville-area assisting with public safety at the "Unite the Right" rally.

The NTSB said the helicopter and was over downtown until 4:42 p.m. when it departed to provide support for a motorcade caring Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

The first 911 call for a crash was at 4:44 p.m.

Lt. H. Jay Cullen of Midlothian, Va., and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, Va.

State Police said the helicopter, manufactured in 2000, crashed into a wooded area near a residence on Old Farm Road.

“The helicopter’s vertical flight path was about 45 degrees when it descended into trees. The main wreckage came to rest about 100 yards from where the aft portion of the tail boom became lodged in a tree,” the NTSB said in a press release.

The NTSB and the Virginia State Police are investigating the cause of the fatal crash. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is also investigating the incident.

The NTSB said a preliminary report will be available within two to three weeks. The entire investigation is expected to last from 12 to 18 months.

The helicopter was not equipped with a flight data recorder or a cockpit voice recorder, nor was it required to be, according to the NTSB.