Family Outraged After Women Die Trapped in Flooded Van Driven by Deputies

APThe Lumber River overflows onto a stretch Interstate 95 in Lumberton N.C. Tuesday Sept. 18 2018 following flooding from Hurricane Florence

The pair were being transported to a mental health facility and drowned when the vehicle was swept away in rising SC floodwaters, according to authorities.

Neither woman was handcuffed or restrained, Richardson said. The sheriff's office didn't immediately confirm that was the case for that van. The vehicle, staffed by two Horry County Sheriff's Office deputies, was transporting two detainees from Conway to Darlington.

It happened in Horry County on Highway 917 Tuesday night as the van was in still water on Pee Dee Island Road near the bridge.

"I'm not sure if it was the way the van was positioned, against a guardrail, or if it was pressure from the water, but unfortunately they were not able to get the van doors open and get the ladies out", Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

"This will be investigated thoroughly, at all different aspects of the investigation", Thompson said. "They were unable to do so". The two officers involved have been placed on administrative leave.

'Tonight's incident is a tragedy, ' he said. "When we get the order, we transport them". "They tried for a long period of time".

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Rescue teams were able to save the deputies from the van's roof, but they could not pull the vehicle from the water because it was too risky, according to the release.

The deputies in the van were rescued and taken to the hospital, according to our source, but the patients were chained in the back of the van. "Last year we transported over 1,200 mental patients, this past year and drove about 40,000 miles transporting and never had an incident like this".

Mental hospitals from which the women were reported to have been taken could not immediately be reached for comment. The sheriff's office characterized them as detainees. "These women were not inmates or criminals". After about 30 minutes, she was told her mother was being hospitalized and would be transferred to a mental hospital but was never given a reason why.

Answering a question as to why the women were moved amid Hurricane Florence, Thompson said it was protocol.

Harrowing police scanner audio provides details of the efforts to save the women, who could be heard talking as rescuers scrambled to save them. Compounding the problem, storm runoff from North Carolina - which was battered by Florence - is now flowing through the Palmetto State via the Yadkin-Pee Dee drainage basin, which terminates in Winyah Bay near Georgetown, S.C.

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