Nicolette Green & Wendy Newton: 'Chained' Florence Victims ID'd

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

Windy Newton and Nicolette Green were being transported by van to separate mental health facilities Tuesday night after being involuntarily committed by physicians, the Horry County Sheriff's Office told HuffPost in a statement.

Horry County referred all questions about the incident - including whether the women had been locked up or were merely being transported - to state investigators, who said they had no new information to release.

"Despite persistent and ongoing efforts, floodwater rose rapidly and the deputies were unable to open the doors to reach the individuals inside the van", the sheriff's office's statement said. According to the report, the two deputies climbed to the top of the van and were rescued by a high water team. The incident is under investigation by the State Law Enforcement Division. Richardson said the deputy who was driving had been "trying to negotiate through fast-running water, and it just didn't work out".

Marion County coroner Jerry Richardson told HuffPost on Wednesday that the submerged van had to be left overnight with the women's bodies still inside because of the danger it posed to rescue workers.

WMBF News reporter Patrick Lloyd was first on scene and saw a heavy emergency response presence that consisted of the Horry County Sheriff's Office, Marion Sheriff's Office, the National Guard, and many other agencies. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) Rising flood waters in the Pee Dee area in Marion County, S.C., seen on September 17, 2018.

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

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"Tonight's incident is a tragedy", Thompson said. "We are just very sorry that this event has taken place".

The van was overtaken by flood waters near Pee Dee Island Road and U.S. Highway 76. Thompson said he has also begun an internal investigation and put the deputies involved - Joshua Bishop and Stephen Flood - on administrative leave.

Harrowing police scanner audio provides details of the efforts to save the women, who could be heard talking as rescuers scrambled to save them.

"I'm believing we're going to get answers", said Stacy Martin.

The South Carolina Department of Corrections tweeted pictures on Monday of prisoners preparing to defend their facilities from flooding. At almost 7 p.m. Wednesday, State Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry confirmed the bodies had been recovered. "It's come up two feet since just last night".

In all, Hurricane Florence has contributed to at least 37 deaths, including at least 27 in North Carolina, officials say.

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