Mental Patients Chained in Back of Sheriff’s Van Drown During Florence

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

The sheriff said that the women were being transported as part of a court order, telling reporters that his agency acts as a courier in such situations, to follow a judge's wishes. Harrowing police scanner audio provides details into the efforts to save the women, who could be heard talking as rescuers scrambled to save them.

Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson stated, "Tonight's incident is a tragedy".

Earlier Wednesday, Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson had identified Newton with a different last name. The sheriff's office characterized them as detainees. He said it's typical for deputies to transport mental-health patients, and restraints aren't used if the patients aren't a threat. In an email, Fox confirmed to CNN that the women were mental health patients headed to Darlington, but he declined to divulge from what facilities they were being transported.

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.

"We get an order to transport to a facility, that's what we do", Thompson said. "Floodwater rose rapidly and the deputies were unable to open the doors to reach the individuals in the van".

He added the women, who he says were not detainees but mental health patients, were not strapped/shackled in the van.

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

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. "When we get the order, we transport them". If they were, then that could have kept them from escaping the van with their lives.

Later, someone else reports, "We have the two deputies that are out of the van and are secure on the boat". Two deputies were in the van with them, though Wenton and Green were in the back.

Crews did not recover the bodies of Green and Newton on Tuesday night.

The investigation has been handed over to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the news release said. In March, Christopher Bennett died after eating drugs and suffering medical issues, a SLED investigation found.

Neither woman has an arrest record in SC, according to documents obtained from state police.

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