Saturday, 20 October, 2018


Two mental-health patients in sheriff’s van drown in S.C. floodwaters

More miles of I-95 in SC closed due to flooding | The Herald Sun 2 women drown in back of police van swept away by Florence flooding
Patty Aguilar | 20 September, 2018, 10:43

It was being driven by deputies from the Horry County Sheriff's Office. The women weren't identified.

Richardson said the deputies and two patients began the trip that afternoon from a hospital near Conway, where tributaries of the Pee Dee River are overflowing their banks.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating the incident.

"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.

A woman who answered the phone at a number listed for Flood told a reporter he didn't want to talk to anyone. One patient was from Waccamaw Mental Health and the other was from the Loris Hospital.

The Lumber River as of September 19 was still in "major" flood stage in several places, according to the National Weather Service.

Floodwaters in North Carolina were still quite high as of September 19.

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". The two deaths will push Florence's toll across three states to almost 40 victims.

Cooper warned that the flooding is far from over and will get worse in places.

"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.

North Carolina's governor is pleading with thousands of Hurricane Florence evacuees to be patient and not return home just yet.

Several roads in the area were closed due to flooding.

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

The bodies of the two women were recovered on Wednesday, almost 24 hours after the event began, from the submerged van in the Little Pee Dee River.

Richardson said the incident happened on Pee Dee Island Road off U.S. Highway 76 outside of Nichols.

"Despite persistent and ongoing efforts, floodwater rose rapidly and the deputies were unable to open the doors to reach the individuals inside the van", Thompson said.

The sheriff's deputies survived after rescue teams arrived on the scene and brought them to safety.

The van was carrying the detainees to a different facility in Darlington, South Carolina when it was overtaken by flood waters on Tuesday.

The Marion County Coroner has confirmed the deaths of both detainees, who have not been identified.

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

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