2 dead after van is swept away in S. Carolina


Officials said that the van was near the Little Pee Dee River, one of the bodies of water that state officials are watching following the heavy rains of Florence.

Windy Newton and Nicolette Green were being transported by van to separate mental health facilities Tuesday night after being involuntarily committed by physicians, the Horry County Sheriff's Office told HuffPost in a statement.

Heading from Conway west on USA 76, the transport van with two deputies was about a half mile from the Little Pee Dee River when it encountered the high water, the news release said. He said the van was traveling "on road 76 into Marion County when it was overcome with flood waters". Sheriff Thompson says they tried to get the women out, but for some reason weren't able to get into the back of the van. High-water rescue teams plucked the deputies from the top of the van. At this time, the recovery effort is ongoing, and the transportation vehicle can not be removed due to rising waters and risky conditions. The incident is under investigation by the State Law Enforcement Division.

County Sheriff Phillip Thompson said in a statement obtained by ABC News that South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the tragic incident.

"We want answers", Green's sister, Donnela Green-Johnson, said in a Facebook post. At almost 7 p.m. Wednesday, State Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry confirmed the bodies had been recovered.

A woman who answered the phone at a number listed for Flood told a reporter he didn't want to talk to anyone.

Flooding in South Carolina from Florence
2 women drown in back of police van swept away by Florence flooding

Asked how the women were restrained in the back of the van, Fox told CNN they were "seat belted".

'I was confused as to why someone would, or the police officers would drive down a road that was in an area that was known for flooding, ' she said. Sheriff Thompson said yesterday he did not believe that that was the case with these individuals.

Hershberger told the station she took her mother ― who was diagnosed with schizophrenia ― to Waccamaw Center for Mental Health on Tuesday to meet with a therapist. Thompson said he has also begun an internal investigation and put the deputies involved - Joshua Bishop and Stephen Flood - on administrative leave. The two individuals being transported were confirmed dead by the Marion County Coroner.

Thompson said he did not think the women were in restraints in the back of the van, noting that restraints are used for combative patients "and I understand they were not". "When we get the order, we transport them". First responders decided not to continue rescue operations at the scene because of the conditions, Thompson said.

Investigators are in the early stages of conducting interviews and gathering evidence, SLED spokesman Thom Berry said.

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