Published: Wed, September 19, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Two female mental health patients drown while chained up in police van

Two female mental health patients drown while chained up in police van

Two female patients at a mental health facility drowned after they became trapped in a police van as it was overcome by floodwaters in SC, authorities said.

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.

Rising water has suspended recovery efforts for the evening.

The Lumber River as of September 19 was still in "major" flood stage in several places, according to the National Weather Service. The two deaths will push Florence's toll across three states to almost 40 victims.

"Tonight's incident was a tragedy", Horry County sheriff Phillip Thompson said. "Just like you, we have questions we want answered".

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

Chief Deputy Tom Fox said the van was overtaken by water about ½ mile from the Little Pee Dee River.

"I know for many people this feels like a nightmare that just won't end", he said.

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

President Donald Trump is slated to visit North Carolina on September 19 to see the damage.

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.

"If that road is in an area where it is a flood risk, and waters were rising, why were they driving on that road anyway?" he said. Deputies waited on top of the van until high-water rescue teams arrived.

"The two deputies attempted to extricate the persons being transported".

Holden says the deputies tried to get the mental health patients out but couldn't open the doors. Richardson, who serves as coroner in adjacent Marion County, confirmed their deaths that night, but authorities had to leave the bodies and van in the water until conditions were less hazardous.

The van was traveling west on Highway 76 into neighboring Marion County when floodwaters overcame the vehicle. "This incident is being investigated by the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED)".

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