Mental Patients Chained in Back of Sheriff’s Van Drown During Florence

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

Thompson said he wasn't sure what prevented the deputies from opening the van's rear door to save the women.

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 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.

Yesterday afternoon, this news outlet was tracking a live webcam of the river sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) when we noticed the bridges spanning the Great Pee Dee were under siege from rising floodwaters ...

Imag Nicolette Green
Nicolette Green

"Tonight's incident is a tragedy".

"They got out and tried to open the van to get the ladies out", Thompson told reporters on Wednesday.

The investigation has been handed over to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the news release said. The victims were being transferred to McLeod Behavioral Health in Darlington, South Carolina, reports WPDE.

Under South Carolina law, people who have been certified by a physician as posing an imminent risk of harm to themselves by virtue of mental illness and are the subject of an involuntary emergency admission must be transported by law enforcement to whichever designated hospital has agreed to admit them, according to officials with the state's Department of Mental Health.

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"This will be investigated thoroughly, at all different aspects of the investigation", Thompson said. Two deputies were rescued but the detainees died.

"High water rescue teams arrived and were able to rescue the two deputies from the top of the van".

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

Because of darkness, responders decided trying to retrieve the women's bodies from the van Tuesday night wasn't safe.

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Neither woman has an arrest record in SC, according to documents obtained from state police.

"We want answers", Green's sister, Donnela Green-Johnson, said in a Facebook post.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson said, "They're both still under the water". At almost 7 p.m. Wednesday, State Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry confirmed the bodies had been recovered.

"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.

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President Donald Trump on Wednesday visited North Carolina, which is bearing the brunt of Florence's deadly deluge and where rivers are still rising while thousands of homes and roadways remain submerged.

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