Richardson identified the two patients as Wendy Wenton, of Shallotte; and Nicolette Green, of Myrtle Beach. The sheriff said that the women were being transported as part of a court order, telling reporters that his agency acts as a courier in such situations, to follow a judge's wishes.
Chief Deputy Tom Fox said the van was overtaken by water about ½ mile from the Little Pee Dee River.
"They're still under the water", Richardson told the AP on Wednesday morning.
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"Tonight's incident is a tragedy", said Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson, according to local reports. The incident is under investigation by the State Law Enforcement Division.
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"I know that it is a very sad situation so ive just been praying for the victims and the families of the victims", said Martin.
He added the women, who he says were not detainees but mental health patients, were not strapped/shackled in the van.
Two women who were being transported to a mental health facility drowned when a sheriff's department van was swept away in rising SC floodwaters, according to authorities. One patient was from Waccamaw Mental Health and the other was from the Loris Hospital. "We are fully cooperating with the State Law Enforcement Division to support their investigation of this event".
The deputies were transporting the women from Conway, near the coast, to Darlington, about 65 miles northwest, on Tuesday night. At this time, the recovery effort is ongoing, and the transportation vehicle can not be removed due to rising waters and risky conditions. 'Just like you, we have questions we want answered'.
The Marion County Coroner has confirmed the deaths of both detainees, who have not been identified.
Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson told the Associated Press early Wednesday that the van was still underwater.
SLED, the South Carolina Highway Patrol and the Horry County Sheriff's Office are investigating the incident. First responders decided not to continue rescue operations at the scene because of the conditions, Thompson said.