Bodies recovered of mental health patients almost 24 hours after drowning

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Horry County Sheriff's Office deputies apparently drove around road-closure barricades before their van was overtaken by floodwaters that killed two women trapped inside.

Horry County referred all questions about the incident - including whether the women had been locked up or were merely being transported - to state investigators, who said they had no new information to release. "Despite persistent and ongoing efforts, floodwater rose rapidly and the deputies were unable to open the doors to reach the individuals inside the van". The deputies were rescued from the van's roof, police said.

In a statement emailed to reporters, Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson identified the women as Windy Newton, 45, and Nicolette Green, 43.

"We want answers", Green's sister, Donnela Green-Johnson, said in a Facebook post.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is reportedly investigating the circumstances surrounding their deaths. 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.

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Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson told the Associated Press early Wednesday that the van was still underwater.

One patient was from Waccamaw Mental Health and the other was from Loris Hospital.

"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. At this time, the recovery effort is ongoing, and the transportation vehicle can not be removed due to rising waters and risky conditions.

'Tonight's incident is a tragedy, ' he said. "We are just very sorry that this event has taken place". They were women who voluntarily sought help.

Or northbound motorists from Georgia could get off I-95 and take either I-26 or I-20 to Columbia and then catch I-77 to Charlotte, the agency said. At almost 7 p.m. Wednesday, State Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry confirmed the bodies had been recovered.

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The closed northbound stretch now runs about 17 miles, from about mile marker 181 to mile marker 198, the Transportation Department said. They have been placed on administrative leave, the HCSO said in a statement.

Those waters have risen another two feet (at least) since that picture was taken ...

In South Carolina, just south of the North Carolina border, I-95 travels through especially low-lying swamp land, and over the Great Pee Dee and Little Pee Dee rivers.

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