The South Carolina National Guard has released a statement regarding an Horry County Sheriff’s Office van that was overtaken by water.
SCNG spokesperson LTC. Cynthia King released the following statement on Friday:
First off and foremost, our hearts go out to the families of the two victims in this incident.
Throughout these response efforts, we have had over 3,200 South Carolina National Guard Soldiers assisting emergency management officials. Their missions have been at the request and under the direction of those local officials and they have performed their duties together with professionalism and respect for one another.
With any tragic event, especially one that involves loss of life, it is irresponsible and premature for any agency outside of the investigative authority to make public comments that are based on speculation. Our State Law Enforcement Division has the lead for this investigation and we are working with them to ensure all of the facts are presented and documented. We will do everything to support them. The purpose of a thorough investigation is to ensure all of the statements are not based on assumptions but on facts. We trust the work SLED does and will respect their investigative processes.
We have been in contact with SLED through the investigative process and are not aware of any wrong-doing by any member of the National Guard. Our soldiers have provided witness statements.
Your questions need to be addressed to SLED while this is an ongoing investigation. Thank you for your understanding.
On Thursday, Brooke Holden, with the Horry County Sheriff’s Office, said the HCSO transport vehicle was waved past barricades by National Guardsmen the night two women drowned and there was an order out that law enforcement vehicles were able to pass through the barricaded area.
Holden said on Friday that information released on Thursday was the last public comment the HCSO will make as the investigation is being handed off to SLED.
According to Holden, the HCSO transportation vehicle was recovered on Monday “from a washout on Highway 76 in Marion County by the State Law Enforcement Division with the assistance of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.”
A press release from the Horry County Sheriff’s Office stated the vehicle, staffed by two Horry County Sheriff’s Office deputies, was transporting two people from Conway to Darlington. The vehicle was traveling west on Highway 76 around 1/2 of a mile from the Little Pee Dee River when the vehicle was overtaken by flood waters.
Chief Deputy Tom Fox, with the HCSO, said two HCSO deputies were transporting two mental health patients to McLeod Behavioral Health in Darlington. One patient was from Waccamaw Mental Health and the other was from Loris Hospital.
According to Fox, while driving down Hwy 76 in Marion County about 1/2 of a mile from the Little Pee Dee River, the van was overtaken by water. The two deputies were rescued by high water rescue teams.
Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson identified the two women who died as Windy Newton, 45, of Shallotte, NC and Nicolette Green, 43, of Myrtle Beach.
WBTW News13 will provides updates as we receive them.