Horry County reaches settlement agreement in drowning deaths of 2 mental health patients in HCSO van
HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – Nearly three years after two women drowned in the back of a Horry County Sheriff’s Office van, a settlement agreement has been reached with the families.
Horry County announced on Tuesday that it has reached an agreement with the estates of Wendy Newton and Nicolette Green to resolve all claims that have been made against the county regarding their deaths.
The two women were locked and restrained in the back of a Horry County prisoner transport van while being taken to a behavioral health center in Lancaster, S.C.
Green and Newton died Sept. 18, 2018, after officials said former Horry County deputy Stephen Flood drove around a flood barrier and into floodwaters caused by Hurricane Florence.
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Ex-deputy Joshua Bishop was also in the van and officials said he didn’t do anything to stop Flood from driving into the water.
Court documents have shown that Flood and Bishop were able to get out of the van as it filled up with water and attempted to get Newton and Green out of the van, but they didn’t have the keys to unlock it and the women were unable to escape from it.
“Horry County regrets and acknowledges these tragic deaths, and changes have been implemented to better protect the safety of mental health patients in Horry County. These changes will help ensure that mental health patients are transported in a more safe and responsible manner,” the county said in a statement regarding the settlement agreement.
Horry County also stated that it extends in sincerest apologies to the families of Green and Newton.
Records from the public index give details on the settlement agreement reached with Green’s family. It shows that once the agreement is approved by a judge it will settle the federal lawsuit that was filed by Greens’ family against Horry County, Horry County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Phillip Thompson, Elizabeth Orlando, Flood and Bishop.
The settlement agreement is for $6.3 million.
A settlement agreement for Newton’s family has not been posted on the public index.
Meanwhile, Flood faces two counts of reckless homicide and two counts of involuntary manslaughter, while Bishop is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Their cases are still pending trial.
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