Published: Sun, September 23, 2018
Health Care | By Belinda Paul

2 dead after van is swept away in S. Carolina

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.

A SC sheriff says his office is performing an internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the drownings of two women in a sheriff's office van who were being brought to a mental health facility.

Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson says the women died Tuesday night when two of his deputies taking them to a mental health facility under court order drove into high water.

Some roads in Marion and Horry County are impacted by floods after Hurricane Florence passed through the area. Despite persistent and ongoing efforts, floodwater rose rapidly and the deputies were unable to open the doors to reach the individuals inside the van.

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.

The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division is now investigating the matter, according to the report.

"It can be assumed he did" drive around a barricade, Sheriff Phillip Thompson said, adding that investigators want to know why the deputies chose to disregard the safety measure. "Just like you, we have questions we want answered". At almost 7 p.m. Wednesday, State Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry confirmed the bodies had been recovered. As waters surged, the sheriffs realized there was no way they continue their journey by van; if anything, staying in the van was putting them at risk.

Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson confirmed to AP earlier Tuesday that two women died in the incident.

"They're still under the water", Richardson told the AP on Wednesday morning.

The SCDOT added the driver of the vehicle had to go around a barrier to get stuck where they were.

The Lumber River overflows onto a stretch Interstate 95 in Lumberton, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, following flooding from Hurricane Florence. "It's come up 2 feet since just last night".

According to statute, the documents authorizing the admission require "a law enforcement officer, preferably in civilian clothes and preferably with crisis intervention training, to take into custody and transport the person to the hospital designated by the certification". It was reported the deputies were driving west on 76.

According to the Marion County Coroner, the deceased individuals are Windy Newton, 45, of Shallotte, NC and Nicolette Green, 43, of Myrtle Beach.

We are now working with the SCDNR to recover the vehicle.

We are working hand-in-hand with the State Law Enforcement Division to cooperate in this investigation.

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