Two killed in crash of state police helicopter near Virginia clash

(Reuters) - Two people aboard a Virginia State Police helicopter died when it crashed on Saturday near Charlottesville, Virginia, where clashes broke out at a gathering of white nationalists and one person was killed when a car rammed into protesters.

Three people were killed in the Charlottesville area on Saturday, including the two deaths in the helicopter crash and a third person who died when a vehicle plowed into people dispersing after the melee in the city's downtown, the state police said on its Twitter account.

President Donald Trump suggested that the two fatalities were state police officers, though city and state officials had not confirmed any specifics.

"Deepest condolences to the families & fellow officers of the VA State Police who died today," he said in a message on Twitter. "You're all among the best this nation produces."

The Bell 407 helicopter went down 7 miles (11 km) southwest of Charlottesville, Jim Peters, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said in an email.

The aircraft belonged to the Virginia State Police, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said by phone. He could not immediately say what caused the crash. The NTSB is sending investigators to the scene, he said.

At least one other person died in Charlottesville on Saturday when a car drove at high speed into a crowd of people who were dispersing after the clash between white supremacists and counter-protesters. The driver, whose identity has not been released, was arrested, police said.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Alistair Bell)

08/12/2017 21:11

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