The Horry County Sheriff’s Office was recently named is a second lawsuit filed over the drowning deaths of Nicolette Green and Wendy Newton.
The Horry County Sheriff’s Office was hit with a lawsuit over the drowning deaths of two mental health patients. The lawsuit was filed by the family of Nicolette Green and not only names the Sheriff’s office as a defendant, but also Horry County, Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson, “Sgt. Elizabeth Orlando, who is the head of the transportation department at J. Reuben Long Detention Center, Stephen Flood and Joshua Bishop.” This is the second suit filed in connection to the incident. Back in August another lawsuit was filed by the family of Wendy Newton, the other woman who drowned alongside Green.
Since the incident, both Flood and Bishop have been criminally charged. In fact, Flood “faces two counts of reckless homicide and two counts of involuntary manslaughter, and Bishop is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.”
What happened, though? How did the two women drown? For Green, it all began when she sought treatment at Waccamaw Center for Mental Health (WCMH) in Conway for her schizophrenia, something she had struggled with her entire adult life. According to the lawsuit, she was “placed on involuntary commitment orders and was arranged to be committed to McLeod Behavior Health Services in Darlington on September 18, 2018.” From there, the “staff of WCMH contacted the HCSO Transportation Division and requested that Green be transported to McLeod Behavior Health Services, which is a request that is regularly made for non-criminal, non-violent mental health patients.” It’s important to note that during transport, mental health patients are routinely “restrained in a small compartment in the van.” The suit states:
“HCSO deputies regularly restrained noncriminal, nonviolent mental health patients subject to involuntary commitment by confining them to a small caged compartment inside a transport vehicle.”
On September 18, 2018, the day of the transport, there were dangerous floodwaters threatening parts of Horry and Marion counties because of Hurricane Florence. Because of that, Flood and Bishop were “warned of dangerous road conditions and told to take a longer route.” According to the lawsuit, “Upon information and belief, Defendants Flood and Bishop were specifically informed that Highway 9 was closed or impassable and that the town of Nichols, South Carolina was experiencing heavy flooding.” Despite being told to take a different route, the “Flood and Bishop proceeded toward Highway 9 and the town of Nichols.” The suit further states:
“Outside the town of Nichols, Defendants Flood and Bishop encountered a barricade manned by a National Guard Military Police Officer. The Guardsman warned Defendants that flood waters were rising, roads were not passable and the town of Nichols was being evacuated. Nevertheless, Defendants Flood and Bishop continued on the same route.”
When Flood and Bridge crossed a bridge over the Pee Dee River, “floodwaters pushed the vehicle against the guardrail and the transport van became stuck.” While Flood and Bishop were able to escape, they “could not get Green and Newton out from the back of the van.” Bishop radioed for help, but the floodwaters continued to rise and Green and Newton tragically died from drowning.
As a result of the incident, Greens family is seeking a jury trial in addition to “actual and consequential damages in an appropriate amount.”