The family of one of two mental health patients detained in SC who drowned in flood waters following Hurricane Florence wants to know why police attempted to transport the women despite the evident danger. The victims were being transferred to McLeod Behavioral Health in Darlington, South Carolina, reports WPDE.
The Horry County Sheriff's deputies reportedly tried to open the back door of the van to release the women, but were unable to because of the rising floodwater.
The deputies in the van were rescued and taken to the hospital, according to our source, but the patients were chained in the back of the van.
The coroner in neighboring Marion County confirmed the two deceased patients were female, and the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the incident, according to the statement.
In a statement emailed to reporters, Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson identified the women as Windy Newton, 45, and Nicolette Green, 43. "Just like you, we have questions we want answered".
He said it's typical for deputies to transport mental-health patients, and restraints aren't used if the patients aren't a threat.
The Lumber River as of September 19 was still in "major" flood stage in several places, according to the National Weather Service. "While a few rivers on the Carolinas' coastal plain reached their peak levels and began declining Monday, other rivers are still rising on the Carolinas' coastal plain, and some may not peak until next week". In addition, there are still segments of I-95 in North Carolina closed beginning at mile marker 13.
2 women drown in back of police van swept away by Florence flooding
Sheriff's deputies at the scene where two women died while being transported in a police van in SC.
The incident brings Florence's death toll to 37.
Cooper warned that the flooding is far from over and will get worse in places. "People need to know exactly how it happened".
State officials in North Carolina now say 3.4 million chickens and 5,500 hogs have been killed in flooding from Florence. Hurricane Florence's torrential rains have flooded much of the area and washed over sections of numerous roads, including the interstate. A spokesman for the division told Greenville Online, "Tonight's incident is a tragedy".
They were about halfway through the trip by 6 p.m., on Highway 76 near the Little Pee Dee River, when the van encountered the running water. Police said a court order allowed them to transport Green and Newton.
Thompson said it took rescue crews about 45 minutes to find the van and get to it via boat.
It had gotten dark, and responders decided it wasn't safe to try to retrieve the women's bodies from the van Tuesday night. Earlier Wednesday, Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson had identified Newton with a different last name.
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