Women die in flooded van driven by South Carolina deputies

Women die in flooded van driven by South Carolina deputies

Officials have said two deputies in the van were able to get out and tried to free the women.

Thompson said it took rescue crews about 45 minutes to find the van and get to it via boat.

"It can be assumed he did" drive around a barricade, Sheriff Phillip Thompson said, adding that investigators want to know why the deputies chose to disregard the safety measure. "Just like you, we have questions we want answered", he said.

Neither woman has an arrest record in SC, according to documents obtained from the State Law Enforcement Division.

The two women have not yet been identified.

"They were trying to negotiate through fast-running water, and it just didn't work out", Richardson told the Associated Press. Both deputies escaped the van, then attempted to save Wenton and Green.

As the van traveled down United States 76 - about a half-mile from the Little Pee Dee River, which separates Mullins from the town of Nichols - high water swept away the vehicle.

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South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Spokesman Thom Berry said recovery efforts are set for today - the van and the victims remain in the flood waters at the scene.

Thompson said he did not think the women were in restraints in the back of the van, noting that restraints are used for combative patients "and I understand they were not".

Justin Bamberg, a state lawmaker and lawyer who has represented the families of several people injured or killed by law enforcement officers, said he's perplexed by the decision to transport anyone in such uncertain weather conditions.

The Marion County Coroner has confirmed the deaths of both detainees, who have not been identified.

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 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. It could have been water pressure or the way the van was resting against a guard rail, he said.

According to the Marion County Coroner, the deceased individuals are Windy Newton, 45, of Shallotte, NC and Nicolette Green, 43, of Myrtle Beach. Chief Deputy Tom Fox of the Horry County Sheriff's Office did not respond to an email request for the spellings. Two additional investigations including a traffic investigation and an internal investigation are taking place.

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