Two ‘Mental Health Patients’ Chained in Sheriff's Van Drown

Mental health patients drown in Florence floodwaters after cops fail to free them

2 mental health patients chained in back of sheriff's van drown as cops saved

"We want those who are responsible to be held accountable", it reads in part.

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. The Little Pee Dee River rose almost 3 feet (1 meter) over the same time.

Authorities confirm two detainees drowned when a van was swept away in rising flood waters in SC. Richardson says the women were being transported from a hospital in Horry County to medical facilities in Florence and Darlington.

Under South Carolina law, people who have been certified by a physician as posing an imminent risk of harm to themselves by virtue of mental illness and are the subject of an involuntary emergency admission must be transported by law enforcement to whichever designated hospital has agreed to admit them, according to officials with the state's Department of Mental Health.

A spokeswoman for the sheriff's office would not say which deputy was driving the van.

It was reported early Tuesday that the Pee Dee River was rising above flood stage and spilling its banks and roadways were flooding but some passable.

KOAA also reports that as of Wednesday morning, the van and the bodies of the women had not been recovered, but the process was underway or expected to be soon. At almost 7 p.m. Wednesday, State Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry confirmed the bodies had been recovered.

Floodwaters in North Carolina were still quite high as of September 19.

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

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.

"I know for many people this feels like a nightmare that just won't end", he said.

President Donald Trump is slated to visit North Carolina on September 19 to see the damage.

Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson tells The Associated Press that 45-year-old Windy Wenton and 43-year-old Nicolette Green were being transported by a Horry County Sheriff's Office van between Nichols and Mullins on Tuesday night when the van was swept away by rising waters.

The deputies in the van were rescued, but the patients who were chained in the back of the van died. High-water rescue teams plucked the deputies from the top of the van. "Floodwater rose rapidly and the deputies were unable to open the doors to reach the individuals in the van".

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