Bill filed in General Assembly addressing transportation of mental health patients after two women drowned in September

Mental health bill filed Tuesday

COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) - A bill filed in the General Assembly Tuesday hopes to change the way mental health patients are treated and transported in South Carolina.

This comes after a Senate subcommittee was appointed to investigate the deaths of Nicolette Green and Wendy Newton. The women drowned inside an Horry County Sheriff’s Office transport van when the vehicle was overtaken by flood waters after Hurricane Florence.

Sen. Marlon Kimpson said he filed the bill on the first day of the legislative session after the Corrections and Penology Special Subcommittee on Mental Health Initiatives met multiple times over the past couple of months.

The bill states it will amend the 1976 code relating to the custody and transport of a person believed to have a mental illness requiring immediate care. It requires a doctor responsible for the patient’s care to contact a friend or relative, and give that person the opportunity to transport the patient themselves.

That friend or relative will then take responsibility and liability for the transport.

Green’s family testified before the subcommittee in November saying they were not told transporting Nicolette on their own was even an option, even though the law states it is.

Additionally, the bill states a state or local law enforcement officer responsible for transporting that patient must be part of a “therapeutic transport unit” and will be required to go through mental health and crisis intervention training.

This comes just five days after the two deputies who drove around the flood barrier were charged in the women’s deaths.

Flood is charged with reckless homicide and involuntary manslaughter and Bishop faces an involuntary manslaughter charge.

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