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

The Latest Deaths of 2 women will be investigated

Sheriff's deputies at the scene where two women died while being transported in a police van in SC.

"Despite persistent and ongoing efforts, floodwater rose rapidly and the deputies were unable to open the doors to reach the individuals inside the van", the sheriff's office said in a statement.

Thompson said his office was responding to court orders to transport the women from a hospital and a mental-health center.

Stephen Flood, a 10-year veteran of the sheriff's office, and Joshua Bishop, a six-year veteran, escaped the van after it encountered floodwaters near U.S. Highway 76 and Pee Dee Island Road in Marion County.

Rescue teams were able to get to the deputies, authorities said. The inmates have not been recovered.

'They were trying to negotiate through fast-running water, and it just didn't work out, ' he said.

The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division is now investigating the matter, according to the report.

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They've been using high-water vehicles and other equipment to rescue dozens of people. He said it's typical for deputies to transport mental-health patients, and restraints aren't used if the patients aren't a threat. The sheriff's office didn't immediately confirm that was the case for that van.

On Wednesday, the sheriff said the vehicle had not yet been recovered yet due to risky conditions and rising waters.

Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson says in a statement Wednesday that he's also cooperating with the State Law Enforcement Division to learn exactly what happened Tuesday night in Marion County. The vehicle was traveling west on Highway 76 around ½ mile from the Little Pee Dee River when the vehicle was overtaken by flood waters. In March, Christopher Bennett died after eating drugs and suffering medical issues, a SLED investigation found.

US President Donald Trump visited storm-ravaged North Carolina on Wednesday, while the state's governor, Roy Cooper, pleaded with thousands of evacuees not to return home just yet, warning the flooding is far from over and will get worse in some places.

A spokesman for the department added: 'In the past, it's been safer to leave them there'.

It is not immediately clear why such a transfer was attempted given the preponderance of flooding in the area due to Hurricane Florence. Two individuals being transported by our HCSO van were involved in a high-water incident and died.

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

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