Crime

Indictments handed down in case of Horry County Sheriff van drowning of two women

Bond hearing for ex-Horry County Sheriff’s deputies charged with manslaughter

Two ex-Horry County Sheriff's deputies were charged with manslaughter in a case of two women drowning in the back of a transport van swept up by floodwaters.
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Two ex-Horry County Sheriff's deputies were charged with manslaughter in a case of two women drowning in the back of a transport van swept up by floodwaters.

Two ex-Horry County Sheriff’s deputies were indicted by a grand jury in Marion County in connection to the drowning of two women they were transporting in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

A Marion County grand jury handed down indictments on Thursday, Solicitor Ed Clements said. Stephen Flood faces two counts of reckless homicide and two counts of involuntary manslaughter. Joshua Bishop faces two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Reckless homicide is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Involuntary manslaughter can be punished by up to five years incarceration.

“They are still innocent until proven guilty,” Clements said. “But they have to come to court to answer the charge.

A grand jury must determine there is probable cause to issue an indictment. The proceedings are done in secret.

The deputies were transporting Nikki Green and Wendy Newton on Sept. 18. The woman were under an order for transfer from Horry County mental health care to other facilities in the state.

On S.C. Highway 76 outside Nichols, the deputies’ van was swept off the road by floodwaters following Hurricane Florence. Green and Newton drowned in the back, and Flood and Bishop were rescued from atop the van.

A South Carolina Department of Natural Resources officer captured the rescue attempts in photographs. The images are the first publicly released photos from the scene.

The Horry County Sheriff’s Office fired Flood and Bishop after the incident.

At a recent probable cause hearing, statements Bishop and Flood gave investigators were read into the record.

Flood drove the van and Bishop stated he was focused on the patients and not paying attention to the route. He said he felt uncomfortable with the water around, but could not remember if he told Flood how he felt.

Shortly after the van was swept off the roadway, Bishop said he freed himself and tried to free the women from the vehicle. A side door wouldn’t open. He got into the back of the vehicle and tried to remove another gate by shooting the locks. But, he was not successful.

Bishop then went to help his partner, who was stuck trying to exit. Bishop freed Flood and moved him to the top of the van while the two called for help.

The two women were in the back of the van “screaming to get out and I tried to calm them down,” Flood said in his statement.

About an hour after the van was swept off the road, rescue crews arrived. Both deputies said the rescuers used axes to cut into the van.

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Alex Lang is the True Crime reporter for The Sun News covering the legal system and how crime impacts local residents. He says letting residents know if they are safe is a vital role of a newspaper. Alex has covered crime in Detroit, Iowa, New York City, West Virginia and now Horry County.
Carli Brosseau is a reporter at The News & Observer who often analyzes databases as part of her work. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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