Two female mental health patients drown while chained up in police van

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

Two mental health patients have been killed after the HCSO transport van they were in was overcome with flood waters, according to an Horry County official in SC. One patient was from Waccamaw Mental Health and the other was from Loris Hospital. Officials said the van was near the Little Pee Dee River, one of the bodies of water state officials were watching following the heavy rains of Florence. Two deputies were rescued but the detainees died.

According to Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson, the victims have been identified as Windy Newton, 45 of Shallotte, NC, and Nicolette Green, 43, of Myrtle Beach.

"They're still under the water", Richardson told The Associated Press early Wednesday. Deputies waited on top of the van until high-water rescue teams arrived.

"Tonight's incident is a tragedy".

The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division is now investigating the matter, according to the report.

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

"If that road is in an area where it is a flood risk, and waters were rising, why were they driving on that road anyway?" he said.

Imag Nicolette Green
Nicolette Green

Police officials told The Sun News that the deputies tried to help the victims, but couldn't open the van doors because the water was rising too fast. 'Just like you, we have questions we want answered'.

The deputies who were transporting the two women to a different facility in SC were saved, local law enforcement officials told ABC News late Tuesday. "We are fully cooperating with the State Law Enforcement Division to support their investigation of this event".

The van couldn't be removed Tuesday night because of rising waters and risky conditions, according to the release.

A spokesman for the department added: 'In the past, it's been safer to leave them there'.

The river stands at more than 14 feet and is expected to reach 15.6 feet by Thursday night.

Police scanner audio captured by CNN affiliate WMBF indicates the floodwater carried the van through a bridge guardrail near the Little Pee Dee Lodge on the Nichols side of the river.

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