Two female mental health patients drown while chained up in police van

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Harrowing police scanner audio provides details into the efforts to save the women, who could be heard talking as rescuers scrambled to save them. "I'm not sure if it was the way the van was positioned, against a guardrail, or if it was pressure from the water, but unfortunately they were not able to get the van doors open and get the ladies out".

Rescue crews needed about 45 minutes to find the van, which was under water at that point, and plucked the Horry County deputies from the roof, the sheriff said.

County Sheriff Phillip Thompson said in a statement obtained by ABC News that South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the tragic incident.

A woman who answered the phone at a number listed for Flood told a reporter he didn't want to talk to anyone.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation has closed a portion of Interstate 95 in both directions in the Pee Dee.

Both deputies "attempted to extricate the persons being transported", the news release said.

They had to suspend recovery efforts due to rising water.

The deputies were transporting the women from Conway, near the coast, to Darlington, about 65 miles northwest, on Tuesday night.

Chief Deputy Tom Fox said the van was overtaken by water about ½ mile from the Little Pee Dee River. "We are fully cooperating with the State Law Enforcement Division to support their investigation of this event".

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Because of darkness, responders decided trying to retrieve the women's bodies from the van Tuesday night wasn't safe. Two deputies were in the van with them, though Wenton and Green were in the back.

In North Carolina, transportation officials Tuesday continued advising motorists who ordinarily might take southbound I-95 from Virginia to SC that flooding has made long sections of I-95 in North Carolina impassable. The two individuals being transported were confirmed dead by the Marion County Coroner.

It happened on Highway 76 south of Nichols in Marion County.

The Little Pee Dee River reached major flood stage after Hurricane Florence battered the Carolinas over the weekend and is expected to crest at 16 feet on September 21, seven feet higher than flood stage.

The SCDOT added the driver of the vehicle had to go around a barrier to get stuck where they were.

At the time of writing, the van is still in the water.

We are now working with the SCDNR to recover the vehicle. Two additional investigations including a traffic investigation and an internal investigation are taking place.

The officers involved in the incident are placed on administrative leave.

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