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Bridge dedicated in honor of fallen VSP Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates: ‘We miss him greatly’

NEW KENT COUNTY, Va. -- A bridge in New Kent County is now named in honor of fallen Virginia State Police Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates who died during the deadly Unite the Right rally last year.

Family and friends joined law enforcement, former Governor Terry McAuliffe and state and local officials Friday afternoon at the dedication ceremony in Quinton.

The bridge on Route 612 (Airport Road) that crosses over Interstate 64 crosses was named the “Trooper Pilot Berke Bates Memorial Bridge.”

Trooper-Pilot Bates, a member of then-Governor Terry McAuliffe’s executive protection unit, was one of the two Troopers killed in a helicopter crash during last August’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.

During the ceremony Friday, McAuliffe recalled their close relationship.

“We traveled the world together. We have five children… Berke was best friends with every one of my five children,” said McAuliffe. “We miss him greatly.”

“The hardest thing for a governor also is when you lose one of your State Troopers. Unfortunately, under my term, we lost six state troopers. It’s never easy." he added.

Bates and Lt. Jay Cullen were on their way to provide over-watch for McAuliffe’s motorcade when the helicopter crashed into a wooded area near a home on Old Farm Road in Albemarle County.

“Jay and Berke lost their lives that day doing exactly what they wanted to do, keeping our community safe. Very few people can actually say that,” he added.

The 40-year-old New Kent man was a 13-year veteran of the Virginia State Police. He joined the VSP Aviation Unit in July 2017.

In April of 2018, the Virginia State Police Aviation helicopter pad at the Midlothian Turnpike headquarters was officially named in Trooper-Pilot Bates’ honor.

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