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

Alicia Farmer
September 19, 2018

The death toll from Storm Florence has risen to 37 after officials confirmed the deaths of two SC mental health patients, officials say.

Horry County Deputy Tom Fox told WPDE-TV that the victims were mental health patients being transported from one facility to another.

They were about halfway through the trip by 6 p.m., on Highway 76 near the Little Pee Dee River, when the van encountered the running water.

WLTX reports that the two deputies were transporting the two patients to McLeod Behavorial Health in Darlington.

Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson confirmed to AP earlier Tuesday that two women died in the incident.

They had to suspend recovery efforts due to rising water.

We'll update as more information becomes available from our sister station WBTW.

"Tonight's incident is a tragedy", Thompson said in a statement.

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"High water rescue teams arrived and were able to rescue the two deputies from the top of the van".

An investigation of these drowning deaths is being led by the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), whose agents were dispatched to the scene late Tuesday. "Just like you, we have questions we want answered".

Some roads in Marion and Horry County are impacted by floods after Hurricane Florence passed through the area. "We are fully cooperating with the State Law Enforcement Division to support their investigation of this event". The Little Pee Dee River reached "major" flood stage in several spots, and forecasters believe it will continue to rise.

Holden says the deputies tried to get the detainees out but couldn't open the doors.

The two women were being transported from Conway to Darlington, according to the Horry County Sheriff's Office.

Police scanner audio captured by CNN affiliate WMBF indicates the floodwater carried the van through a bridge guardrail near the Little Pee Dee Lodge on the Nichols side of the river.

Later, someone else reports, "We have the two deputies that are out of the van and are secure on the boat". At this time, the recovery effort is ongoing, and the transportation vehicle can not be removed due to rising waters and risky conditions.

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