Two mental-health patients in sheriff’s van drown in S.C. floodwaters

Overflowing Pee Dee River in Cheraw finally crested residents hoping worst has passed

Overflowing Pee Dee River in Cheraw finally crested residents hoping worst has passed Pee Dee River

Two mental health patients have been killed after the HCSO transport van they were in was overcome with flood waters, according to an Horry County official in SC.

The incident has spawned investigations by the State Law Enforcement Division and Highway Patrol.

The pair of Horry County Sheriff's deputies who were in the van tried to extricate the patients, but, due to rapidly rising floodwaters, were unable to open the van's doors to reach the shackled women, according to a statement from County Sheriff Phillip Thompson.

Responders decided it wasn't safe to try to retrieve the women's bodies from the van Tuesday night because of darkness. They have been placed on administrative leave, the HCSO said in a statement. They were women who voluntarily sought help. "If they saw the water-they have their own, you know, 'turn around, don't drown.' They have that everywhere".

She said her mother was a trusting person who was betrayed by the deputies.

The Horry County Sheriff's Office transport van was still in the water as of about 8:45 p.m. Tuesday, WPDE reported. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) Rising flood waters in the Pee Dee area in Marion County, S.C., seen on September 17, 2018.

"We want answers", Green's sister, Donnela Green-Johnson, said in a Facebook post.

WMBF News reporter Patrick Lloyd was first on scene and saw a heavy emergency response presence that consisted of the Horry County Sheriff's Office, Marion Sheriff's Office, the National Guard, and many other agencies. According to the report, the two deputies climbed to the top of the van and were rescued by a high water team.

"It's still hard, we've got rising, rapid water, debris-infested water, dark water, and the auto is all the way under the water now", Richardson said Wednesday afternoon. "We are fully cooperating with the State Law Enforcement Division to support their investigation of this event".

Last night, we had a tragedy. The women will be taken to Medical University of SC in Charleston for autopsies. "People need to know exactly how it happened".

According to the Marion County Coroner, the deceased individuals are Windy Newton, 45, of Shallotte, NC and Nicolette Green, 43, of Myrtle Beach. "It makes it seem like someone took a very unnecessary risk".

President Donald Trump on Wednesday visited North Carolina, which is bearing the brunt of Florence's deadly deluge and where rivers are still rising while thousands of homes and roadways remain submerged.

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