'There’s no closure’: Friday marks two years since two patients drowned in back of HCSO transport van

'There’s no closure’: Friday marks two years since two patients drowned in back of HCSO transport van
Nicolette Green (left) and Wendy Newton passed away in an HCSO van in September 2018.
Nicolette Green (left) and Wendy Newton passed away in an HCSO van in September 2018. (Source: Green and Newton families)

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Friday marks two years since two mental health patients drowned in the back of a Horry County Sheriff’s Office jail transport van after being swept away in floodwaters near Nichols.

Nicolette Green and Wendy Newton died after officials said ex-deputy Stephen Flood drove around a flood barrier and into floodwaters caused by Hurricane Florence.

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Ex-deputy Joshua Bishop was in the van as well and officials said he didn’t do anything to stop Flood from driving into the water.

Flood faces two counts of reckless homicide and two counts of involuntary manslaughter, while Bishop is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Both former deputies were fired from the Horry County Sheriff’s Office in October 2018.

Green’s family members said even though it’s been two years, it still feels like it just happened.

“To me, it feels like the day," Nicolette’s mother Linda Green said. "While it’s two years, it just seems like a minute ago.”

Two years later, they’re still baffled by the fact that Nicolette, or Nikki as they called her, and Wendy were in the back of a jail transport van.

“They were caged like, well, I wouldn’t even treat a dog that way, but they were caged like animals," Nikki’s sister Donnela Green-Johnson said.

The Green family is frustrated with the lack of progress made in the case.

“Not a thing has been done," Linda Green said. “Nothing.”

“There’s no closure for us,” Green-Johnson said.

Both deputies were indicted on their respective charges.

Flood had a court hearing last summer, where his attorney Jonny McCoy asked a judge if he could get a job, but since that court hearing, there haven’t been any updates to either criminal case.

“I’d like to see the maximum sentence," Green-Johnson said of the ex-deputies. "I would. I think it wasn’t an accident. I get a little ruffled when I see that their death is blamed on Hurricane Florence. Hurricane Florence did not kill my sister. It was a conscious decision on their part, and I think both of them deserve the max.”

The incident sparked outrage and even caught the attention of state lawmakers.

State Sen. Marlon Kimpson filed a bill to change the way mental health patients are transported after he captained a sub-committee designed to investigate the case to find out how to properly reform mental health transport.

But the bill hasn’t become law.

“It didn’t go anywhere," Green-Johnson said. "It got bogged down because of budget. So as far as we know, people are still being transported that way, and that’s wrong.”

The Green family said their main focus heading forward is making sure the bill passes so no other family has to go through what they’ve gone through. However, they’re still devastated to know the case has not moved forward.

“I’ll never move on,” Linda Green said. “I’ll always have in my brain the image of Nikki drowning.”

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