Bodies recovered of mental health patients almost 24 hours after drowning

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Two women drowned in North Carolina while they were being transported from a mental health facility in a van also occupied by two sheriff's deputies.

The incident is being investigated by the State Law Enforcement Division.

The deputies who were transporting them were rescued after unsuccessful attempts to free the women, Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson said during a press conference. "Despite persistent and ongoing efforts, floodwater rose rapidly and the deputies were unable to open the doors", the statement reads. Richardson, who serves as coroner in adjacent Marion County, confirmed their deaths that night, but authorities had to leave the bodies and van in the water until conditions were less hazardous. They were women who voluntarily sought help.

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

"They trusted the hospitals and the sheriff deputies with their lives and that trust was abused", the family said in a statement.

Hershberger told the station she took her mother ― who was diagnosed with schizophrenia ― to Waccamaw Center for Mental Health on Tuesday to meet with a therapist.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson said, "They're both still under the water".

Imag Nicolette Green
Nicolette Green

Rescue teams were able to save the deputies from the van's roof, but they could not pull the vehicle from the water because it was too unsafe, according to the release. "We get an order to transport to a facility, that's what we do", Thompson said, reported the Myrtle Beach Sun News. "It's come up 2 feet since last night".

"We want answers", Green's sister, Donnela Green-Johnson, said in a Facebook post. Thom Berry with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said during part of the recovery effort, they tried putting boats in the water so they could get the victims out of the van.

Neither woman has an arrest record in SC, according to documents obtained from state police.

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.

"I know for many people this feels like a nightmare that just won't end", he said. "It makes it seem like someone took a very unnecessary risk in creating the problem in the first place".

The death toll from Hurricane Florence climbed to at least 37, and North Carolina's governor pleaded with thousands of evacuees not to return home just yet.

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I'd like to emphasise that this isolated incident does not correspond with what I have always shown throughout my career". The important thing is that the team wins.

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