Two Female Mental Health Patients Drown While Stuck in Transport Van.
The nation's most recent hurricane is doing a number on the east coast. Thousands of people are without food, power, medical supplies and shelter. While the official death toll, for both hurricane and residual effects thereof, are unknown we do know that two more families are without their loved ones.
Windy Newton, 45 of Shallotte, NC, and Nicolette Green, 43, of Myrtle Beach, SC were being transported from a hospital in Horry County to medical facilities in Florence and Darlington. The transport vehicle was swept away and the two women reportedly drowned.
Via WMBF News:
"The bodies of the two women were recovered on Wednesday, nearly 24 hours after the event began, from the submerged van in the Little Pee Dee River.
Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson identified the two deputies involved in the incident as Stephen Flood and Joshua Bishop. According to a news release, the deputies have been placed on administrative leave.
In a Wednesday night press conference, Thompson was asked whether or not the deputies had driven around barriers on the flooded road. Thompson said: 'We have three different people doing investigations. Obviously it appears that they did. My question is, I want to know why. What were the circumstances and what happened at the particular time.'
He added the women, who he says were not detainees but mental health patients, were not strapped/shackled in the van."
"The incident is being investigated by the State Law Enforcement Division and South Carolina highway patrol. HCSO is conducting an internal investigation. Thom Berry with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said during part of the recovery effort, they tried putting boats in the water so they could get the victims out of the van.
"I just want to say to the families that they are definitely in our thoughts and our prayers. We will be there for whatever questions they may have, the public and anyone else."
When it comes to the deputies who assist in transport, Thompson said that they have gone through extensive intense training.
"The training is more than the correction officers training. We go into very in-depth training with driving, with different aspects of what they have to do. Last year we transported over 1,200 mental patients, this past year and drove about 40,000 miles transporting and never had an incident like this."
According to information from the South Carolina Department of Transportation, the portion of Highway 76 in the Nichols area was closed Tuesday night and had been closed for some time.
The SCDOT added the driver of the vehicle had to go around a barrier to get stuck where they were.
The Little Pee Dee River reached major flood stage after Hurricane Florence battered the Carolinas over the weekend and is expected to crest at 16 feet on September 21, seven feet higher than flood stage. "
This is a horrible tragedy however, there are still MANY questions that still need to be answered. The families of these victims deserve to know the who truth about their loved ones last moments on earth.
We'll be keeping our eye on this story as more details come to light.