American Aluminum Accessories, maker of inmate transport van cages, will pay $1M to flood victim’s mother.
A court has approved a $1 million agreement between American Aluminum Accessories and South Carolina resident Linda Green, the mother of drowning victim Nicolette (Nikki) Green. American Aluminum Accessories is the maker of cages for inmate transport vans.
In 2018, law enforcement deputies Stephen Flood and Joshua Bishop, were driving Green, 43, and Wendy Newton, 45, through Marion County to a mental health facility under court order when their van got caught up in flood waters resulting from Hurricane Florence. Water filled the vehicle. Green and Newton, locked inside, both drowned, while the officers escaped.
Green has a history of schizophrenia and depression. Schizophrenia is characterized by thoughts or experiences that seem out of touch with reality, disorganized speech or behavior, and decreased participation in daily activities, which also coincides with clinical depression.
On the day of the incident, Nicolette Green had met with a new medical professional for a routine check-up at Waccamaw Center for Mental Health, and the staff member made the decision to commit her although Green’s new medication was helping, her family said at the time.
“The women in the van were being transported after involuntary commitments by a physician,” confirmed information provided by the sheriff’s office.
The Hurricane limited the number of safe routes available. However, Flood had been given a specific route to make the transport. He drove in the flooded road instead with Bishop did nothing to stop him, Horry County Sheriff’s Office disciplinary records state.
“It should have never happened,” Linda Green said.
Half of the million-dollar settlement was ordered for the wrongful death claim filed against the company and the other half was designated for the survival claims (similar to personal injury claims filed on behalf of the deceased person).
Although the case against American Aluminum Accessories has been settled, Green, on behalf of her daughter’s estate, is also suing Horry County, the Horry County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Phillip Thompson, Sgt. Elizabeth Orlando and the two former deputies, Flood and Bishop.
Flood and Bishop were charged with reckless homicide and involuntary manslaughter and terminated from their positions, even though both officers insisted they attempted to rescue the women. Their case is still pending. State lawmakers who have been reviewing the evidence presented in the case determined that the van was on an unsafe route different than the one that the deputies had been advised to take and the officers lacked the tools to free the women. Specially, they did not have with them box cutters or some other device with which the bars could have been pried open.
“It’s hard for me to try and visualize in my mind my daughter gasping for breath,” Linda Green said. “The horror of her knowing she’s going to die and the water coming up around her.”
Nikki is survived by her two daughters, Rose and Erica, as well as young son, Gad. The family shared that Nikki’s son Otto died from cancer in 2015.