A Virginia state police helicopter crashed, killing two officers, just hours after violence in Charlottesville, as the death and injury toll in a bloody day grew.
“Virginia State Police confirmed there were two fatalities on board the helicopter and no one on the ground was hurt,” The Arkansas Journal reported.
The helicopter fatalities capped an already difficult day for Virginians and the nation as white nationalists clashed with counter protesters and a car rammed into a crowd of the latter. The deaths in the chopper brought the area’s death toll to three people on August 12.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Chopper Crashed Near a Golf Course & President Trump Tweeted Condolences
According to The Daily Progress, the helicopter “crashed into a wooded area near a home close to Birdwood Golf Course on Old Farm Road in Albemarle County.”
President Donald Trump tweeted of the dead officers, “Deepest condolences to the families & fellow officers of the VA State Police who died today. You’re all among the best this nation produces.”
The helicopter “hovered low over the houses near the golf course before crashing,” Fresno Bee reported.
2. It Wasn’t Yet Clear What the Helicopter Was Doing
Although some on social media blamed the protests for the deaths of the people on the helicopter, it was not yet confirmed whether the helicopter was responding to the riots or protests in any way.
“State police would not say if the helicopter had been involved in monitoring the clashes between alt-right demonstrators and counter protesters ahead of the scheduled Unite the Right rally downtown,” Daily Progress reported.
However, ABC News reported that the crash occurred only seven miles from Charlottesville. And the Associated Press later reported that “Officials say the deaths of two people in a helicopter crash near Charlottesville, Virginia, have been linked to a violent white nationalist rally earlier in the day. It was not immediately clear how the crash was connected to the rally.”
3. The Cause of the Fatal Crash Is Not Yet Known
Daily Progress reports that the cause of the helicopter crash is not yet clear.
4. Photos & Videos Showed Smoke Emerging From the Crash Scene & the Emergency Response
Photos and videos captured some of the emotion at the scene as well as plumes of smoke rising from the site where the chopper went down.
5. At Least One Death & 34 Injuries Were Reported in Charlottesville in Addition to the Helicopter Victims
The double fatality crash came after another death was reported and 34 people were injured in a day of clashes in Charlottesville between white nationalists and counter protesters.
In the most dramatic incident, a car rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters. President Donald Trump condemned the violence on “many sides,” a comment that is drawing strong criticism from those who believe he should have singled out white nationalists for condemnation and referred to the car ramming attack as domestic terrorism. The car ramming suspect has not yet been identified but is a male who is in custody.
The white nationalists had descended on Charlottesville with torches, chants, and Nazi salutes because they are upset by the vote to remove a Robert E. Lee statue from Charlottesville’s downtown area.