Health Care

Women die in flooded van driven by South Carolina deputies

Women die in flooded van driven by South Carolina deputies

Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson says the women died Tuesday night when two of his deputies taking them to a mental health facility under court order drove into high water.

More miles of northbound Interstate 95 in SC, just south of the North Carolina line, have been closed due to flooding from Hurricane Florence, the S.C. Department of Transportation said Tuesday.

"It can be assumed he did" drive around a barricade, Sheriff Phillip Thompson said, adding that investigators want to know why the deputies made a decision to disregard the safety measure.

"We want those who are responsible to be held accountable", it reads in part.

Hershberger told the station she took her mother ― who was diagnosed with schizophrenia ― to Waccamaw Center for Mental Health on Tuesday to meet with a therapist.

Just hours before closing the road, officials with the S.C. Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) had announced the reopening of the vital east coast thoroughfare - which experienced severe flooding in low-lying areas between mile markers 181 and 190 in Dillon County, S.C. earlier this week.

Asked how the women were restrained in the back of the van, Fox told CNN they were "seat belted".

More miles of I-95 in SC closed due to flooding | The Herald Sun
Two die in flooded sheriff's transport van

The incident brings Florence's death toll to 37.

Cooper warned locals that the flooding isn't over yet. "People need to know exactly how it happened".

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. Hurricane Florence's torrential rains have flooded much of the area and washed over sections of numerous roads, including the interstate. That effort resumed Wednesday morning, but Thompson said a specialized crew was being flown in from Charleston to assist. The vehicle, staffed by two Horry County Sheriff's Office deputies, was transporting two detainees from Conway to Darlington.

In South Carolina, just south of the North Carolina border, I-95 travels through especially low-lying swamp land, and over the Great Pee Dee and Little Pee Dee rivers. "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".

Rescue crews needed about 45 minutes to find the van, which was underwater at that point, and plucked the Horry County deputies from the roof, the sheriff said.

Because of darkness, responders decided trying to retrieve the women's bodies from the van Tuesday night wasn't safe.

Investigators are in the early stages of conducting interviews and gathering evidence, SLED spokesman Thom Berry said.

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