Women chained in police van drown in Hurricane Florence floods

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

17, 2018 photo shows rising flood waters in the Pee Dee area in Marion County, S.C. Two female mental health patients detained for medical transport drowned Tuesday, Sept. 18, when a sheriff's department van was swept away in rising floodwaters, according to authorities.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is reportedly investigating the circumstances surrounding their deaths.

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.

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.

Imag Nicolette Green
Nicolette Green

The van couldn't be removed Tuesday night because of rising waters and risky conditions, according to the release. He said the two deputies involved had been placed on administrative leave and he had launched an internal investigation.

The deputies waited on top of the van until rescuers arrived. First responders decided not to continue rescue operations at the scene because of the conditions, Thompson said.

The Transportation Department advised northbound motorists to take a wide detour around the area by using I-85 from Georgia through South Carolina's Upstate and on to Charlotte. Chief Deputy Tom Fox of the Horry County Sheriff's Office did not respond to an email request for the spellings.

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.

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WPDE-TV reported that the patients were being transported from Loris Hospital Waccamaw Center for Mental Health to McLeod Health.

"Tonight's incident is a tragedy", Thompson said.

"Once those orders are issued, we don't place those people in a detention centre", Thompson said. Neither woman had an arrest record in SC, according to records obtained by the AP. 'Just like you, we have questions we want answered'.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson said, "They're both still under the water". Their names also yielded no records in the Horry County jail and court index systems. At almost 7 p.m. Wednesday, State Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry confirmed the bodies had been recovered.

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Newton had posted on her Facebook page, last updated in 2014, that she had been previously hospitalized for mental illness.

"I know that it is a very sad situation so ive just been praying for the victims and the families of the victims", said Martin.

State officials in North Carolina now say 3.4 million chickens and 5,500 hogs have been killed in flooding from Florence.

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