Drowning victims in Horry sheriff van caught in flood waters are identified

Florence flooding expected to last for days

More miles of I-95 in SC closed due to flooding | The Herald Sun

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.

Chief Deputy Tom Fox said the van was overtaken by water about ½ mile from the Little Pee Dee River. High-water rescue teams rescued the deputies from on top of the van. The inmates have not been recovered. They were going down Highway 76 when the floodwaters began to rise near the Little Pee Dee River, which is a branch of the Lumber River.

Recovery efforts were underway Wednesday, said Thom Berry, a spokesman for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

In a Wednesday night press conference, Thompson was asked whether or not the deputies had driven around barriers on the flooded road.

Authorities confirm two female mental health patients drowned when a van was swept away in rising flood waters in South Carolina, CBS affiliate WLTX reports.

"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.

More miles of I-95 in SC closed due to flooding | The Herald Sun

"Tonight's incident is a tragedy", he said. 'Just like you, we have questions we want answered'. The sheriff said that the women were being transported as part of a court order, telling reporters that his agency acts as a courier in such situations, to follow a judge's wishes. The Little Pee Dee River reached "major" flood stage in several spots, and forecasters believe it will continue to rise. "It makes it seem like someone took a very unnecessary risk in creating the problem in the first place". The two Horry County deputies who were responsible for transporting the women attempted to save them, according to the law enforcement narrative, but were unsuccessful in their efforts.

The pair were being transported to a mental health facility and drowned when the vehicle was swept away in rising SC floodwaters, according to authorities. "We are fully cooperating with the State Law Enforcement Division to support their investigation of this event".

They are Nicolette Green, 43, of Myrtle Beach and Windy Newton, 45, of Shallotte, N.C., according to the coroner, Jerry Richardson.

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

SLED, the South Carolina Highway Patrol and the Horry County Sheriff's Office are investigating the incident.

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