HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – The defendants named in a lawsuit filed by the family of one of the two mental health patients who drowned while in the back of a Horry County Sheriff’s Office transport van have filed their responses.
Wendy Newtown’s family named Horry County; the HCSO; Sheriff Phillip Thompson; Elizabeth Orlando, who is the head of the transportation department at J. Reuben Long Detention Center; and former HCSO corrections officers Stephen Flood and Joshua Bishop in the lawsuit filed in August.
In their responses filed last week in the U.S. District Court in Florence, Thompson, Orland, Flood and Bishop all denied the vast majority of the allegations in the lawsuit and asked that the complaint against them be “dismissed with prejudice.”
Flood and Bishop were transporting Newtown and Nicolette Green in the HCSO van shortly after Hurricane Florence in September 2018.
Flood waters on Highway 76 in Marion County swept the van away, and Green and Newton drowned in the vehicle.
Both men have been criminally charged in the case. Flood faces two counts of reckless homicide and two counts of involuntary manslaughter, while Bishop is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.
In his response to the lawsuit, Flood admits that he drove the HCSO transport van through the town of Nichols and eventually encountered a barricade where two National Guardsmen and a Marion County Sheriff’s deputy were stationed.
“This Defendant denies any warning whatsoever from anyone of ‘high flood waters’ or other possible dangers on the road ahead, but admits that, after stopping and conversing with one or more of these individuals, he proceeded unimpeded on this route,” the response states.