Two South Carolina mental health patients drowned in a prison transport van when floodwater from the aftermath of Hurricane Florence overtook the vehicle, according to the Horry County Sheriff's Office. Richardson says the women were being transported from a hospital in Horry County to medical facilities in Florence and Darlington.
Two deputies were rescued from the top of the van, and Horry County officials said they tried to get the women out.
Two women in the back of a sheriff's van drowned Tuesday evening when deputies tried to drive down a SC road flooded by tropical storm Florence. Obviously it appears that they did. A spokesman for the division told Greenville Online, "Tonight's incident is a tragedy".
"It was devastating because we had found her again, then to have her taken by a senseless crime, it's devastating to us", said Donnela. We work hard to protect and to serve our citizens. "It makes it seem like someone took a very unnecessary risk".
The incident has spawned investigations by the State Law Enforcement Division and Highway Patrol. HCSO is conducting an internal investigation.
Richardson said the van came across rising water and was carried off the road. Flood has worked at the sheriff's office for 10 years, and Bishop was hired six years ago, according to Thompson. Why they made a decision to try to drive through is beyond me. "We will be there for whatever questions they may have, the public and anyone else".
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Harrowing police scanner audio provides details of the efforts to save the women, who could be heard talking as rescuers scrambled to save them. The sheriff's office transports 1,200 patients per year, traveling up to 40,000 miles each month, he said.
Thompson also said he didn't know if the deputies had driven around any barricades blocking the roads.
Family members said they were shocked by the deaths and didn't understand how they happened.
"It's a sad situation all around", he added on Thursday. They trusted the hospitals and the Sheriff Deputies with their lives and that trust was abused. According to some accounts, water swept the vehicle off the road.
Two deputies were able to escape the vehicle, a news release said.
Responders congregate near where two people drownedwhen they were trapped in a Horry County Sheriff transport van while crossing an overtopped bridge over the Little Pee Dee River on Hwy 76, during rising floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Marion County, S.C. on September 19, 2018.
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The two deputies attempted to extricate the persons being transported.
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.
Responders decided it wasn't safe to try to retrieve the women's bodies from the van Tuesday night because of darkness.
The Marion County Coroner has confirmed the deaths of both detainees, who have not been identified.
Sheriff Phillip Thompson told WPDE that, contrary to some early reports, the women were not shackled. 'Just like you, we have questions we want answered'. 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. "I am not sure if it was the way the van was positioned against the guardrail or it was pressure from the water".
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We are now working with the SCDNR to recover the vehicle.