Deputies Fired After Two Mental Health Patients Drowned in Van During Hurricane Florence
Stephen Flood and Joshua Bishop were fired from the Horry County Sheriff’s Office over the drowning deaths of Nicolette Green and Windy Newton
Two South Carolina deputies who were rescued from a flooded van during Hurricane Florence have been fired as officials investigate the deaths of two mental health patients who drowned inside the vehicle, PEOPLE confirms.
Stephen Flood and Joshua Bishop were fired from the Horry County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday, about a month after they allegedly drove around a barricade and into a flood-prone area as they attempted to transport Nicolette Green, 43, and Windy Newton, 45, to a facility during deadly Hurricane Florence.
“First step towards justice! We are very happy,” Green’s sister, Donnela Green-Johnson, told WMBF. “It is the first formal acknowledgment of any wrongdoing by anyone in the county. Even if it’s just the admittance of violations in policy which require the termination … it’s a beginning. It’s a victory.”
“Corrections Officers Stephen Flood and Joshua Bishop employment with the Horry County Sheriff Office [were] terminated today, as the result of an ongoing internal administrative investigation into the incident where two female occupants died when a detention center transport van was overtaken by floodwaters,” the office said in a statement on Twitter. “Since the administrative internal investigation is currently continuing and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division inquiry into the incident is ongoing, no further details regarding the employees’ termination of employment can be released at this time.”
Green and Newton were being transported from hospitals to a behavioral center on Sept. 18. Neither Green nor Newton have arrest records in the state, CBS News reported.
The deputies were traveling in the area of the Little Pee Dee River when they drove into floodwaters that quickly swamped the van. They tried to pull the women out, but couldn’t get the van doors open, Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson said during a news conference last month. Thompson noted that the deputies “tried for a long period of time” to rescue the women. Search teams later found the deputies on top of the submerged van and rescued them.
Thompson said he does not believe the women were in restraints and noted that it is common for deputies to transport mental health patients. In the wake of the deaths, many have rallied behind the women.
“I feel very upset and kind of betrayed, because my mom was a very, very trusting person,” Rose Hershberger, 19, told NBC News of her mother Green’s death last month. Hershberger said her mother was seeking help for schizophrenia at the time of her death.
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“She still put her trust in the deputies that were supposed to take care of her and made sure she got there safely,” Hershberger said then.
“The fact that they were able to get out but my mom and the other woman wasn’t makes me feel really like hurt and betrayed by them,” she added. “In my head, it’s hard for me to accept the fact that my mom is now dead.”
At least 51 people died during Hurricane Florence, including 39 deaths in North Carolina, nine in South Carolina and three in Virginia, according to CNN.