The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the incident. The women were in the back of the van, in shackles. 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.
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"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.
"They were trying to negotiate through fast-running water, and it just didn't work out", he told AP.
Crews did not recover the bodies of Green and Newton on Tuesday night.
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 on Tuesday night when it was overtaken by flood waters.
Thompson also said he didn't know if the deputies had driven around any barricades blocking the roads.
"We have very intense training for folks that go into transport", Thompson said.
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Two mental health patients referred to by officials as "detainees" who drowned in the back of a sheriff's department transport van in SC have no arrest records in the state.
Sixteen North Carolina rivers were at major flood stage Tuesday, with an additional three forecast to peak by Thursday.
The two individuals being transported were confirmed dead by the Marion County Coroner. The deputies transporting them managed to escape, but the women were unable to do so. At almost 7 p.m. Wednesday, State Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry confirmed the bodies had been recovered.
According to reporter Summer Dashe of WPDE TV-15 (ABC - Myrtle Beach/ Florence, S.C.), "many of the roads in (in the area) are closed because of flooding".
He added the women, who he says were not detainees but mental health patients, were not strapped/shackled in the van.
"At this time, the recovery effort is ongoing, and the transportation vehicle can not be removed due to rising waters and unsafe conditions", the sheriff's office said.
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.
Hurricane Florence has now killed at least three dozen people - including at least eight in SC. In March, Christopher Bennett died after eating drugs and suffering medical issues, a SLED investigation found.