Mental Patients Chained in Back of Sheriff’s Van Drown During Florence

Florence flooding expected to last for days

Police say they died on Tuesday when a sheriff's van transporting them was caught in floodwaters.

The patients were being taken from Loris Hospital and Waccamaw Mental Health Hospital to McLeod, according to WPDE.

Horry County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Brooke Holden said that a sheriff's office van was carrying two "detainees" and two deputies to Darlington when it was overtaken by flood waters.

The death toll from Storm Florence has risen to 37 after officials confirmed the deaths of two SC mental health patients, officials say.

"Tonight's incident is a tragedy", Thompson said in a statement. They were going down Highway 76 when the floodwaters began to rise near the Little Pee Dee River, which is a branch of the Lumber River. 'Just like you, we have questions we want answered'.

Forecasters predict some rivers in the northeastern area of the state might not reach their highest levels until later this week or next week.

The death toll from Florence rose to 37 in three states, the AP report noted.

A resident surveys a road inundated by water in Lumberton, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, following flooding from Hurricane Florence.

The tragic incident occurred near the Little Pee Dee River, which continues to rise as water from upriver North Carolina makes its way into South Carolina's waterways. High-water rescue teams rescued the deputies from on top of the van. The deputies transporting them managed to escape, but the women were unable to do so.

Coroner Jerry M. Richardson told WLOS that the victims were both female and were chained up in the back of the van.

Two deputies tried to help the victims, but the floodwater rapidly rose and the deputies couldn't open the doors, according to the sheriff's office.

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

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