2 'detainees' drown as van swept into SC flood waters

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Two South Carolina sheriff's deputies who were transporting a pair of mental patients in a van that was overcome by flood waters - drowning the two women, who were chained in the back of the van - have been placed on administrative leave, authorities said on Wednesday.

Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson confirmed to The Associated Press early Wednesday the victims were Windy Wenton, 45, and Nicolette Green, 43.

That effort resumed Wednesday morning, and Thompson said a specialized crew was being flown in from Charleston to assist. The deputies transporting them managed to escape, but the women were unable to do so. The sheriff's office didn't immediately confirm that was the case for that van. Officials said the van was in Marion County near the Little Pee Dee River, one of the bodies of water state officials are watching closely after Florence.

The highway was shut down between the town of Nichols and the Little Pee River since Monday because of flooding, according to information posted on the state Department of Transportation's website.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating the incident. When a high-water rescue team arrived on the scene, the 2 sheriffs were on top of the van and the women still inside, dead.

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Thompson said neither deputy had committed any significant past driving infractions in connection with their duties.

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.

One report said they were inmates. By the time they got there, the van was underwater, and the deputies were on the roof.

Rising water has suspended recovery efforts for the evening.

Two female mental patients chained in the back of a SC county sheriff's van drowned when the...

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According to the sheriff's office, the two detainees were being transferred from Waccamaw Mental Health in Myrtle Beach and McLeod Loris Hospital in Loris to McLeod Behavioral Health in Darlington, S.C.

"The two deputies attempted to extricate the persons being transported", a statement from the Horry County sheriff's office noted.

Mental hospitals from which the women were reported to have been taken could not immediately be reached for comment.

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

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