Two mental-health patients drown in law enforcement van in South Carolina flood waters

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Two female mental-health patients being transported by the Horry County Sheriff’s Office drowned after the vehicle they were in ran off the road near flood waters in Marion County on Tuesday night.

Marion County Coroner Jerry M. Richardson said the incident happened on Pee Dee Island Road off U.S. Highway 76 outside of Nichols.

The Horry County Sheriff’s Office van was transporting the two women from Horry County to other hospitals, Richardson said.

According to a release from the Horry County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were transporting two detainees from Conway to Darlington when the transport van was overtaken by flood waters.

Some roads in Marion and Horry County are impacted by floods after Hurricane Florence passed through the area.

Two deputies tried to help the victims, but the floodwater rapidly rose and the deputies couldn’t open the doors, according to the sheriff’s office. High-water rescue teams rescued the deputies from on top of the van.

The van couldn’t be removed Tuesday night because of rising waters and dangerous conditions, according to the release.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating the incident.

Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson stated in the release, “Tonight’s incident is a tragedy. Just like you, we have questions we want answered. We are fully cooperating with the State Law Enforcement Division to support their investigation of this event.”