Hurricane Florence: Family Demands Answers After 2 Mental Health Patients Drowned

Florence Lopez
September 21, 2018

Horry County Sheriff's Office deputies apparently drove around road-closure barricades before their van was overtaken by floodwaters that killed two women trapped inside. Thompson says the van submerged and the deputies weren't able to save the women from the back. High-water rescue teams plucked the deputies from the top of the van.

"We want those who are responsible to be held accountable", it reads in part.

"They were trying to negotiate through fast-running water, and it just didn't work out", said the coroner, Jerry Richardson.

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.

According to ABC affiliate WPDE, the patients were being transported from Loris Hospital Waccamaw Center for Mental Health to McLeod Health, which runs multiple facilities in the region. "If that road is in an area where it is a flood risk, why were they driving on that road anyway?" asked State Rep. Justin Bamberg, a trial attorney in SC who has represented families in cases of police killings, according to the AP. At this time, the recovery effort is ongoing, and the transportation vehicle can not be removed due to rising waters and risky conditions. A spokesman for the division told Greenville Online, "Tonight's incident is a tragedy. We are just very sorry that this event has taken place".

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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".

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

Holden said that deputies tried to get the victims out but couldn't. Compounding the problem, storm runoff from North Carolina - which was battered by Florence - is now flowing through the Palmetto State via the Yadkin-Pee Dee drainage basin, which terminates in Winyah Bay near Georgetown, S.C. "It's come up 2 feet (0.6 metres) since just last night". Thompson said he has also begun an internal investigation and put the deputies involved - Joshua Bishop and Stephen Flood - on administrative leave.

The highway was shut down between the town of Nichols and the Little Pee River since Monday because of flooding, according to information posted on the state Department of Transportation's website.

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