Drowning victims in Horry sheriff van caught in flood waters are identified

Henrietta Brewer
September 20, 2018

Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson identified the two deputies involved in the incident as Stephen Flood and Joshua Bishop.

Responders congregate on September 19, 2018, near where two people drowned Tuesday evening when they were trapped in a Horry County Sheriff transport van while crossing an overtopped bridge over the Little Pee Dee River, in Marion County, S.C.

"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", Thompson said. Deputies waited on top of the van until high-water rescue teams arrived. "Just like you, we have questions we want answered", he said. The incident is under investigation by the State Law Enforcement Division.

Drowning victims in Horry sheriff van caught in flood waters are identified

Horry County Deputy Tom Fox told WPDE-TV the victims were mental health patients being transported from one facility to another.

"They're still under the water", Richardson told The Associated Press early Wednesday.

According to statute, the documents authorizing the admission require "a law enforcement officer, preferably in civilian clothes and preferably with crisis intervention training, to take into custody and transport the person to the hospital designated by the certification".

Officials say the van was traveling near the Little Pee Dee River, one of the bodies of water officials in SC are watching closely as water continues to poor into the state from upriver in North Carolina following the heavy rains of Florence. At almost 7 p.m. Wednesday, State Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry confirmed the bodies had been recovered. 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. "When we get the order, we transport them".

He added the women, who he says were not detainees but mental health patients, were not strapped/shackled in the van. Officials said the van was near the Little Pee Dee River, one of the bodies of water state officials were watching following the heavy rains of Florence.

The river stands at more than 14 feet and is expected to reach 15.6 feet by Thursday night.

At the time of writing, the van is still in the water.

According to the Marion County Coroner, the deceased individuals are Windy Newton, 45, of Shallotte, NC and Nicolette Green, 43, of Myrtle Beach. Due to risky conditions and rising waters, additional search and rescue teams are arriving to assist in the recovery of the vehicle.

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