Sheriff: Van where 2 women died recovered

BLADENBORO, N.C. (AP) – Authorities have recovered a van they say was swept away last week in South Carolina floodwaters, killing two mental patients being transported in the back.

Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson says in a news release that the van was recovered Monday from a river in Marion County.

Thompson has opened an internal investigation into the incident, which happened while two of his deputies were transporting two female mental patients as floodwaters in northeastern South Carolina rose after Hurricane Florence.

The deputies have been placed on leave, and state police and the Highway Patrol are investigating.

It took more than 24 hours to recover the women’s bodies from the sunken van.

Officials say water levels in parts of South Carolina will continue to rise for several days after torrential rains from Hurricane Florence.

State Transportation Secretary Christy Hall told reporters during a news conference Monday in Georgetown that the Waccamaw River in the Conway area is still rising at the rate of about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) per hour.

Transportation officials have constructed barriers along some roads in the Conway area to try to prevent water from washing over roads. That includes Highway 501, a main artery from that area to the tourism center of Myrtle Beach.

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