2 dead after van swept away in S. Carolina amid Florence flooding

Overflowing Pee Dee River in Cheraw finally crested residents hoping worst has passed

Responders congregate on September 19, 2018, near where two people drowned Tuesday evening when they were trapped in a Horry County Sheriff transport van while crossing an overtopped bridge over the Little Pee Dee River, in Marion County, S.C.

Heading from Conway west on USA 76, the transport van with two deputies was about a half mile from the Little Pee Dee River when it encountered the high water, the news release said.

Rescue crews needed about 45 minutes to find the van, which was underwater at that point, and plucked the Horry County deputies from the roof, the sheriff said.

"Tonight's incident is a tragedy", Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson said in Tuesday's statement. "Just like you, we have questions we want answered".

The incident is being investigated by HCSO and the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division.

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. The sheriff's office characterized them as detainees.

"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.

Authorities confirm two detainees drowned when a van was swept away in rising flood waters in SC. "We get an order to transport to a facility, that's what we do", Thompson said, reported the Myrtle Beach Sun News. "It makes it seem like someone took a very unnecessary risk in creating the problem in the first place". He said the two deputies involved had been placed on administrative leave and he had launched an internal investigation.

Holden said that deputies tried to get the victims out but couldn't. They were women who voluntarily sought help.

Several roads in the area were closed due to flooding.

Hershberger said that her mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia three years ago and took medication for the condition; a new therapist who Green visited on September 18, determined she needed to be committed to a mental institution.

In South Carolina, just south of the North Carolina border, I-95 travels through especially low-lying swamp land, and over the Great Pee Dee and Little Pee Dee rivers.

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Spokesman Thom Berry said recovery efforts are set for today - the van and the victims remain in the flood waters at the scene.

North Carolina's governor is pleading with thousands of Hurricane Florence evacuees to be patient and not return home just yet.

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