Published: Sat, September 22, 2018
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2 ’detainees’ drown as van swept into South Carolina flood waters

2 ’detainees’ drown as van swept into South Carolina flood waters

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.

Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson confirmed to The Associated Press early Wednesday the victims were Windy Wenton, 45, and Nicolette Green, 43.

Two South Carolina sheriff's deputies who were transporting a pair of mental patients in a van that was overcome by flood waters - drowning the two women, who were chained in the back of the van - have been placed on administrative leave, authorities said on Wednesday.

The van was traveling west on US 76 east of Nichols about 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

"We get an order to transport to a facility, that's what we do", Thompson said. "It's come up two feet since just last night". They were on Highway 76 in Conway, South Carolina, when the roadway was washed out, the released stated. "We are fully cooperating with the State Law Enforcement Division to support their investigation of this event".

Sixteen North Carolina rivers were at major flood stage Tuesday, with an additional three forecast to peak by Thursday.

"The two deputies attempted to extricate the persons being transported", a statement from the Horry County sheriff's office noted.


Thom Berry, a spokesman for the State Law Enforcement Division, said SLED agents have been sent to the scene to investigate.

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

The death toll from Hurricane Florence climbed to at least 37, and North Carolina's governor pleaded with thousands of evacuees not to return home just yet.

The two individuals being transported were confirmed dead by the Marion County Coroner.

"I'm not sure if it was the way the van was positioned, against a guardrail, or if it was pressure from the water, but unfortunately they were not able to get the van doors open and get the ladies out", Thompson said.

By the time a rescue team arrived, the deputies were stranded on top of the van and it was too late for the women.

Forecasters predict some rivers in the northeastern area of the state might not reach their highest levels until later this week or next week.

Neither woman was handcuffed or restrained, Richardson said.

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