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Helipad dedicated to trooper killed in chopper crash: ‘He wanted to help people’

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Wednesday will mark 249 days since Virginia State Police Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates passed away.

"That date is always in my mind and it's always in my parents’ mind. If you talk to my mom, she can tell you exactly how many days it’s been since we lost Burke," said Bates' older brother, Craig Bates.

Trooper-Pilot Bates was one of the two Troopers killed in a helicopter crash during last August’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.

The 40-year-old New Kent man and Virginia State Police Pilot Lt. Jay Cullen were killed on August 12, 2017, when a Virginia State Police helicopter crashed into a wooded area near a home on Old Farm Road in Albemarle County.

Virginia State Police Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates

Virginia State Police Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates

Bates and Cullen were on their way to provide over-watch for the motorcade of then-Governor Terry McAuliffe.

"I had texted [my brother] probably an hour and a half before the accident and asked, 'Are you being safe?'" Craig recounted.

Craig Bates and family members drove to Chesterfield from Tennessee and Massachusetts to attend a special dedication in his brother's honor.

Craig Bates

Craig Bates

The Virginia State Police Aviation helicopter pad at the Midlothian Turnpike headquarters was officially named in Trooper-Pilot Bates' honor during a dedication ceremony Wednesday.

Bates graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in August 2004 as a member of the 107th Basic Session. He had just transferred to the Aviation Unit as a Trooper-Pilot in July.

"He was somebody from a young age who knew what he wanted to do. He knew he wanted to help people," Craig remembered. "He was doing what he loved to do and that’s where my family takes solace from that."

The Virginia State Police Aviation helicopter pad at the Midlothian Turnpike headquarters.

The Virginia State Police Aviation helicopter pad at the Midlothian Turnpike headquarters.

Former-Governor Terry McAuliffe and Gov. Ralph Northam both attended the ceremony to honor Bates.

In February. Lt. Cullen was honored when a hangar at the Chesterfield airport was named after him.

Bates loved hockey and his family. He lost his life just a day before his birthday.

He is survived by his wife Amanda, son Deacon and daughter Kylee.