2 dead after van is swept away in S. Carolina

2 patients drown as van swept into floodwaters

2 patients drown as van swept into floodwaters

Authorities confirm two detainees drowned when a van was swept away in rising flood waters in SC.

The Horry County Sheriff's deputies tried to free the two female mental patients, but due to the rapidly rising floodwaters, they were not able to open the doors to the van, Sheriff Phillip Thompson said in the ABC report.

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.

A Marion County coroner confirmed the two deaths and identified the women as Wendy Newton, 45, of Shallotte, N.C., and Nicolette Green, 43, of Myrtle Beach.

Richardson said the patients' bodies were being recovered Wednesday morning.

'Tonight's incident is a tragedy, ' he said.

US President Donald Trump visited storm-ravaged North Carolina on Wednesday, while the state's governor, Roy Cooper, pleaded with thousands of evacuees not to return home just yet, warning the flooding is far from over and will get worse in some places.

The incident has spawned investigations by the State Law Enforcement Division and Highway Patrol. Officials said the van was near the Little Pee Dee River, one of the bodies of water state officials are watching closely following the heavy rains of Florence.

"They were trying to negotiate through fast-running water, and it just didn't work out", Richardson told the Associated Press.

Authorities confirm two detainees drowned when a van was swept away in rising flood waters in SC.

It is not immediately clear why such a transfer was attempted given the preponderance of flooding in the area due to Hurricane Florence.

Most of the deaths have occurred in North Carolina, where entire communities have been virtually cut off by floodwaters and are grappling with rivers cresting at record levels.

According to information from the South Carolina Department of Transportation, the portion of Highway 76 in the Nichols area was closed Tuesday night and had been closed for some time.

According to ABC affiliate WPDE, the patients were being transported from Loris Hospital Waccamaw Center for Mental Health to McLeod Health, which runs multiple facilities in the region. Earlier Wednesday, Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson had identified Newton with a different last name. The deputies transporting them managed to escape, but the women were unable to do so.

The van couldn't be removed Tuesday night because of rising waters and unsafe conditions, according to the release. This incident is being investigated by the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

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