Two female mental health patients detained for medical transport drowned Tuesday night when a sheriff's department van was swept away in rising South Carolina flood waters, authorities say. Horry County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Brooke Holden says a sheriff's office van was carrying two detainees and two deputies from Conway to Darlington when it was overtaken by flood waters, the AP reports. Officials say the van was traveling near the Little Pee Dee River, one of the bodies of water authorities in South Carolina are watching closely as water continues to pour into the state from upriver in North Carolina following the heavy rains of Hurricane Florence.
Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson confirmed to the AP earlier Tuesday that two women died in the incident. "They were trying to negotiate through fast-running water, and it just didn't work out," he said. Their names have not been released. Holden says the deputies tried to get the detainees out but couldn't open the doors. High-water rescue teams plucked the deputies from the top of the van. The incident is being investigated by the State Law Enforcement Division. In a release, Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson said his office would cooperate with a state police investigation. "Tonight's incident is a tragedy," he said. "Just like you, we have questions we want answered."
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