Women chained in police van drown in Hurricane Florence floods

More miles of I-95 in SC closed due to flooding | The Herald Sun

The deputies were transporting the women from Conway, near the coast, to Darlington, about 65 miles northwest, on Tuesday night. The women weren't identified.

The two deputies in the van were rescued and are being treated at a local hospital.

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry said the bodies of 45-year-old Windy Newton and 43-year-old Nicolette Green were recovered from the van Wednesday evening.

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

WLTX-TV contacted Green's family, who released the following statement, saying they want answers.

Justin Bamberg, a state lawmaker and lawyer who has represented the families of several people injured or killed by law enforcement officers, said Wednesday he's perplexed by the decision to transport anyone in such uncertain weather conditions.

The deputies had been scheduled to drop off the pair at nearby hospitals and were driving near the Little Pee Dee River, which had been rapidly rising due to Florence. 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. 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. The two deaths will push Florence's toll across three states to almost 40 victims.

Cooper warned that the flooding is far from over and will get worse in places.

President Donald Trump is slated to visit North Carolina on September 19 to see the damage. Hurricane Florence's torrential rains have flooded much of the area and washed over sections of numerous roads, including the interstate.

A resident surveys a road inundated by water in Lumberton, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, following flooding from Hurricane Florence. "It could be assumed that he did", Thompson said Wednesday. The women were in the back of the van, in shackles.

The incident happened in the area of the Little Pee Dee River, which branches off from the Lumber River, in Mullins, South Carolina.

The deputies were transporting Green and Newton based on court orders from the staff at Waccamaw Center for Mental Health and a mental-health center in Loris, Thompson said.

Thompson said he wasn't sure what prevented the deputies from opening the van's rear door to save the women. High-water rescue teams plucked the deputies from the top of the van.

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