Two South Carolina sheriff’s deputies will be charged in connection with the deaths of two women who drowned in a locked and overturned van while they were being transported during Hurricane Florence on Sept. 18.
Horry County Deputy Stephen Flood “made a conscious decision” to drive the van around a barricade and into an area threatened by rising floodwaters in violation of safety policy, according to a report by the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy and cited by WMBF News.
Flood will be charged with two counts each of reckless homicide and involuntary manslaughter, according to The Associated Press citing statements by Marion County Solicitor Ed Clements. Deputy Joshua Bishop will be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.
NPR was unable to reach Solicitor Clements for comment.
Flood and Bishop were transporting 45-year-old Wendy Newton and 43-year-old Nicolette Green from a hospital in Horry County to other facilities when their van was overtaken by floodwaters from the Little Pee Dee River. The deputies were unable to rescue the women from the overturned van. Rescue workers found the deputies on the van’s roof. According to initial reports, the bodies of the two women weren’t recovered for nearly 24 hours.
The women were being transported for mental health care and hadn’t been charged with any crimes.
According to other reports, the deputies were waved through past a National Guard barricade near the Little Pee Dee River because they were in a law enforcement vehicle.
Flood and Bishop were fired from the Horry County Sheriff’s Office in October as the result of an internal investigation.