Two Horry County Sheriff’s deputies will face criminal charges for their roles in the drowning of two women in the back of a transport van swept up by floodwaters, lawyers and members of a victim’s family told The Sun News.
“I am happy that it looks like the wheels of justice are moving in the right direction for Wendy and Nikki,” said Donella Green-Johnson, Nikki’s sister.
Horry County Sheriff deputy Stephen Flood, who was driving the van, will face two counts of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of reckless homicide, and Joshua Bishop will face two counts of involuntary manslaughter, Green-Johnson said. Flood’s attorney confirmed the charges.
A bond hearing is set for Friday morning in Marion County.
“It’s the first good news we’ve heard since they got fired,” Green-Johnson said.
Green’s family, along with Wendy Newton’s, met with Florence and Marion counties Solicitor Ed Clements on Thursday for about two hours.
On Sept. 18 during Hurricane Florence, Nikki Green, of Myrtle Beach, and Wendy Newton, of Shallotte, North Carolina, were in the van under an order for transport from Horry County mental health facilities to other centers in the state. The van was in the Nichols, S.C., area when the deputies drove around a barricade and into high waters.
The two deputies tried to rescue the women, officials said, but were unsuccessful.
Rescue crews responded to the area near Pee Dee Island Road and rescued the deputies. Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson previously said the van’s doors were blocked or against a guardrail preventing access to the women.
It took more than 24 hours before crews could safely remove the bodies from the van. Thompson said he did not believe the women were in restraints while in the transport.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the South Carolina Highway Patrol investigated the incident.
Flood and Bishop were fired as deputies after the incident.
According to a report by the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, both Flood and Bishop were fired for misconduct. According to the reports, the misconduct included: “Dangerous and/or unsafe practices involving firearms, weapons and/or vehicle which indicated a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons.”
Flood’s attorney Allie Argoe said she couldn’t talk much about the case before the bond hearing, but they are hopeful for the facts about what happened to be released throughout the case.
Dec. 27 would have been Nikki Green’s 44th birthday and her mother, Linda, used the occasion to visit the site where she died. Linda brought a small present and a piece of red velvet cake, Nikki’s favorite, to leave at the makeshift memorial.
“I can not even imagine the horror my daughter and Wendy had to go through,” Linda Green said. The road is still under massive repairs where it washed away.
She said imagining the van pinned, the women screaming for help, filled her with rage. Even months later, police tape still wrapped around nearby trees and showed the high water mark.
“What the heck,” Linda said with a sigh. “The van was so submerged they couldn’t even get the women bodies out. Just stuck in that van with all the dirty, putrid flood, Pee Dee river water, and God knows what creatures, these are the thoughts that go in a mother’s mind.”
Linda took a second to compose herself as she overlooked the site.
“Poor daughter,” she said, her voice trailing off, “and all she was doing was asking for her Schizophrenia and this is what Horry County gave her.”