Two female mental health patients drown while chained up in police van

Brittany Mendoza
September 21, 2018

The Horry County Sheriff's Office van was transporting the two women from Horry County to other hospitals, Richardson said.

Two women "detainees" chained in the back of a police van died when the vehicle was engulfed by Hurricane Florence floodwaters.

Two deputies tried to help the victims, but the floodwater rapidly rose and the deputies couldn't open the doors, according to the sheriff's office.

Rescue crews needed about 45 minutes to find the van, which was underwater at that point, and plucked the Horry County deputies from the roof, the sheriff said.

In a release, Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson said his office would cooperate with the probe.

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

The incident is being investigated by HCSO and the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division. Richardson said the deputy who was driving had been "trying to negotiate through fast-running water, and it just didn't work out".

The two individuals being transported were confirmed dead by the Marion County Coroner.

Horry County Deputy Tom Fox told WPDE-TV the victims were mental health patients being transported from one facility to another.

Richardson said the van came across rising water and was carried off the road.

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"Tonight's incident is a tragedy. We are just very sorry that this event has taken place".

Thompson also said he didn't know if the deputies had driven around any barricades blocking the roads.

When it comes to the deputies who assist in transport, Thompson said that they have gone through extensive intense training. At almost 7 p.m. Wednesday, State Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry confirmed the bodies had been recovered.

Several roads in the area were closed due to flooding.

In all, Hurricane Florence has contributed to at least 37 deaths, including at least 27 in North Carolina, officials say.

As for Nicolette's sister, she has one question: "What would prompt you to endanger your life and the life of the people the back, why?" said Donnela.

The river stands at more than 14 feet and is expected to reach 15.6 feet by Thursday night.

Bishop and Flood have been placed on administrative leave while three separate investigations are conducted into the deaths.

Yesterday afternoon, this news outlet was tracking a live webcam of the river sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) when we noticed the bridges spanning the Great Pee Dee were under siege from rising floodwaters ...

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