Bodies recovered of mental health patients almost 24 hours after drowning

20 September, 2018, 02:24 | Author: Lillian Steele
  • A church is surrounded by floodwaters from Hurricane Florence

In South Carolina, just south of the North Carolina border, I-95 travels through especially low-lying swamp land, and over the Great Pee Dee and Little Pee Dee rivers.

"It can be assumed he did" drive around a barricade, Sheriff Phillip Thompson said, adding that investigators want to know why the deputies made a decision to disregard the safety measure.

Thompson said it took rescue crews about 45 minutes to find the van and get to it via boat.

Horry County Deputy Tom Fox told WPDE-TV that the victims were mental health patients being transported from one facility to another.

Neither woman had been charged with a crime.

"We have very intense training for folks that go into transport", Thompson said.

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

Thompson said he did not think Green and Newton were in restraints when the van hit the floodwaters.

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WLTX reports that the two deputies were transporting the two patients to McLeod Behavorial Health in Darlington.

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. It could have been water pressure or the way the van was resting against a guard rail, he said. By the time they got there, the van was underwater, and the deputies were on the roof. It took about 45 minutes for emergency crews to find the van, the sheriff said.

The two individuals being transported were confirmed dead by the Marion County Coroner.

The investigation has been handed over to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the news release said. Officials say the van was traveling near the Little Pee Dee River, one of the bodies of water officials in SC are watching closely as water continues to poor into the state from upriver in North Carolina following the heavy rains of Florence.

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

WMBF News reporter Patrick Lloyd was first on scene and saw a heavy emergency response presence that consisted of the Horry County Sheriff's Office, Marion Sheriff's Office, the National Guard, and many other agencies. Then a 67-year-old woman died in early June from natural causes.

Thompson said he was concerned with the five deaths, but he said those at the detention center were different.

Thompson also said he didn't know if the deputies had driven around any barricades blocking the roads.



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