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Officials say the van was traveling near the Little Pee Dee River, one of the bodies of water officials in SC are watching closely as water continues to poor into the state from upriver in North Carolina following the heavy rains of Florence. The Little Pee Dee River rose almost 3 feet (1 meter) over the same time.
The van was carrying the detainees to a different facility in Darlington, South Carolina when it was overtaken by flood waters on Tuesday. 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.
Thompson said his office was responding to court orders to transport the women from a hospital and a mental-health center.
Rescue crews needed about 45 minutes to find the van, which was underwater at that point, and plucked the Horry County deputies from the roof, the sheriff said. The Little Pee Dee River reached "major" flood stage in several spots, and forecasters believe it will continue to rise. "We are fully cooperating with the State Law Enforcement Division to support their investigation of this event".
The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the incident.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday visited North Carolina, which is bearing the brunt of Florence's deadly deluge and where rivers are still rising while thousands of homes and roadways remain submerged.
In all, Hurricane Florence has contributed to at least 37 deaths, including at least 27 in North Carolina, officials say.
President Donald Trump is slated to visit North Carolina on September 19 to see the damage.
Cooper warned that the flooding is far from over and will get worse in places.
Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson tells The Associated Press that 45-year-old Windy Wenton and 43-year-old Nicolette Green were being transported by a Horry County Sheriff's Office van between Nichols and Mullins on Tuesday night when the van was swept away by rising waters.
By the time a rescue team arrived, the deputies were stranded on top of the van and it was too late for the women.
The women, who were shackled, became trapped inside the vehicle.
Two deputies tried to help the victims, but the floodwater rapidly rose and the deputies couldn't open the doors, according to the sheriff's office. In March, Christopher Bennett died after eating drugs and suffering medical issues, a SLED investigation found.