Judge finds probable cause exists to move forward case of two former HCSO officers charged in drowning deaths of two women

Judge finds probable cause exists to move forward case of two former HCSO officers charged in drowning deaths of two women

MARION, SC (WMBF) – A judge ruled that probable cause exists for a case against two former Horry County Sheriff’s Office corrections officers charged in the deaths of two mental health patients to move forward.

That was the decision Monday at a preliminary hearing in Marion County for defendants Stephen Flood and Joshua Bishop.

Flood is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of reckless homicide in the drowning deaths of Nicolette Green and Wendy Newton last September. Co-defendant Joshua Bishop was in the front seat of the HCSO transport van that was transporting the two patients while Flood was reportedly driving.

Bishop was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

During the hearing, the court heard from Stephen Howell of the State Law Enforcement Division, who read from Flood’s affidavit about what happened that day.

The affidavit stated that Flood was late to work. He and Bishop then went to pick up the patients, both of whom were non-combative.

The deputies then were heading to McLeod Hospital on Highway 9 in Marion County when they came upon the flood barriers and a National Guardsman, according to the affidavit.

Flood’s affidavit indicated the National Guardsman gave them permission to go around the barrier, and he went slow because of the floodwaters that were the result of Hurricane Florence.

Howell said the National Guardsman waved the deputies through because he was under the impression the deputies wanted to enter the town of Nichols to examine the flooding. Howell said the National Guardsman was unaware the deputies were trying to go all the way through Highway 76.

Eventually, the transport van started to float and was pushed to a guard rail, and the two deputies fought to get out of the van and rescue the women as the water overtook the vehicle, according to the affidavit.

Bishop attempted to shoot the locks off to free the women, according to Flood’s affidavit.

During the hearing, Bishop’s affidavit was also read, which stated he helped Flood get out of the van through the passenger-side door.

Howell said Flood and Bishop attended a meeting before the transport where supervisors told them they needed to take SC 22 to Highway 501 instead of taking Highway 9. Howell also said Flood and Bishop maintain that meeting never happened.

Flood was present at Monday’s hearing, while Bishop was represented by his attorney.

The judge, who noted he was a previous law enforcement officer who also transported mental health patients, said the former HCSO deputy was sworn to protect the women.

A trial date has not been set.

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