Bodies recovered of mental health patients almost 24 hours after drowning

Water from the Little Pee Dee River floods a house and washes out part of Route 301 on Sept. 17 in Dillon S.C

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating the incident.

A SC sheriff says his office is performing an internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the drownings of two women in a sheriff's office van who were being brought to a mental health facility.

Floodwaters in North Carolina were still quite high as of September 19.

It was reported that Horry County Deputy Sheriff Tom Fox was on scene and told media the victims were "being taken from a Loris Hospital and Waccamaw Center for Mental Health to McLeod Health".

It happened in Horry County on Highway 917 Tuesday night as the van was in still water on Pee Dee Island Road near the bridge. "Right now, everybody is saying what a great job we are doing with Hurricane Florence - and they are 100% correct", he tweeted.

"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.

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

Marion county coroner Jerry Richardson has confirmed that two people drowned on the Little Pee Dee river.

It had gotten dark, and responders decided it wasn't safe to try to retrieve the women's bodies from the van Tuesday night.

Battle says as far as he knows, everyone evacuated the town as the water first started to make its way in on Monday.

The death toll from storm Florence has risen to at least 37 in the US East Coast, including two mental health patients drowned in a van overtaken by floodwaters, the media reported on Wednesday.

The two women - passengers in an Horry County sheriff's office van - were chained inside the back of the vehicle when it experienced a "high-water incident" while traveling west on Highway 76.

We are working hand-in-hand with the State Law Enforcement Division to cooperate in this investigation.

Sixteen North Carolina rivers were at major flood stage Tuesday, with an additional three forecast to peak by Thursday.

In a statement to the media outlet, the Sheriff's Office says that "despite persistent and ongoing efforts", the sheriffs weren't able to free the women inside.

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

The van couldn't be removed Tuesday night because of rising waters and risky conditions, according to the release.

Richardson says the patients' bodies were being recovered Wednesday morning. The vehicle, staffed by two Horry County Sheriff's Office deputies, was transporting two detainees from Conway to Darlington. In March, Christopher Bennett died after eating drugs and suffering medical issues, a SLED investigation found.



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