Mental Health Patients Drown in Back of Police Van During Florence

Mental Health Patients Drown in Back of Police Van During Florence

Mental Health Patients Drown in Back of Police Van During Florence

Horry County Sheriff's Office deputies apparently drove around road-closure barricades before their van was overtaken by floodwaters that killed two women trapped inside.

Horry County referred all questions about the incident - including whether the women had been locked up or were merely being transported - to state investigators, who said they had no new information to release.

Two mental health patients have been killed after the HCSO transport van they were in was overcome with flood waters, according to an Horry County official in SC. They were going down Highway 76 when the floodwaters began to rise near the Little Pee Dee River, which is a branch of the Lumber River.

Officials said that the van was near the Little Pee Dee River, one of the bodies of water that state officials are watching following the heavy rains of Florence.

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.

North Carolina's governor is pleading with thousands of Hurricane Florence evacuees to be patient and not return home just yet.

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, arrived in storm-ravaged North Carolina on Wednesday and helped volunteers at a church in the hard-hit coastal town of New Bern.

Cooper warned locals that the flooding isn't over yet.

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

The women were being transported following involuntary commitments by a physician, according to the sheriff's office. Rescue teams responded in time to save the deputies.

In a statement to the media outlet, the Sheriff's Office says that "despite persistent and ongoing efforts", the sheriffs weren't able to free the women inside.

According to reporter Meg Kinnard of the Associated Press, as of Wednesday morning both bodies remained inside the submerged truck - with flood waters around the vehicle rising by more than two feet since the incident took place.

Marion county coroner Jerry Richardson confirmed the two women - 45-year-old Wendy H. Newton and 43-year-old Nicolette T. Green - died at the scene. This incident is being investigated by the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

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