2 dead after van is swept away in S. Carolina

Mental health patients drown in Florence floodwaters after cops fail to free them

Authorities confirm two detainees drowned when a van was swept away in rising flood waters in SC.

The identity of the 2 women has been made public, along with assurances from the Sheriff's Office that they were not, contrary to reports, shackled in the back of the van when the flood came.

A SC sheriff says his office is performing an internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the drownings of two women in a sheriff's office van who were being brought to a mental health facility.

Rescue crews needed about 45 minutes to find the van, which was underwater at that point, and plucked the Horry County deputies from the roof, the sheriff said.

Richardson said the patients' bodies were being recovered Wednesday morning.

"We are now working with the SCDNR to recover the vehicle", Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson says.

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

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating the incident.

The deputies in the van were rescued and taken to the hospital, according to our source, but the patients were chained in the back of the van.

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It happened on Highway 76 south of Nichols in Marion County.

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

That's according to documents obtained from the State Law Enforcement Division concerning 45-year-old Windy Wenton and 43-year-old Nicolette Green.

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.

Bishop and Flood have been placed on administrative leave while three separate investigations are conducted into the deaths.

The patients were being transported from Loris Hospital Waccamaw Center for Mental Health to McLeod Health, which runs multiple facilities in the region, according to WPDE.

After submerging North Carolina with almost one metre of rain, the storm dumped more than 16.5cm of rain in the Northeast, where it caused flash flooding.

Hurricane Florence started off as a Category 4 major hurricane but was downgraded to tropical storm right before it hit mainland in North and SC.

"Despite persistent and ongoing efforts, floodwater rose rapidly and the deputies were unable to open the doors to reach the individuals inside the van", the sheriff's office's statement said.

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