The deputies who were transporting the two women to a different facility in SC were saved, local law enforcement officials told ABC News late Tuesday. Thompson says the van submerged and the deputies weren't able to save the women from the back.
The sheriff's deputies survived after rescue teams arrived on the scene and brought them to safety.
Answering a question as to why the women were moved amid Hurricane Florence, Thompson said it was protocol. "We are fully cooperating with the State Law Enforcement Division to support their investigation of this event".
"They were trying to negotiate through fast-running water, and it just didn't work out", Richardson told the Associated Press.
The van was attempting to cross a flooded area of Highway 76 in Marion County when it got swept away, according to cops.
Their names also yielded no records in the Horry County jail and court index systems.
The patients were being taken from Loris Hospital and Waccamaw Mental Health Hospital to McLeod, according to WPDE. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) Rising flood waters in the Pee Dee area in Marion County, S.C., seen on September 17, 2018. That effort resumed Wednesday morning, but Thompson said a specialized crew was being flown in from Charleston to assist. They were women who voluntarily sought help.
She said her mother was a trusting person who was betrayed by the deputies.
Responders congregate near where two people drownedwhen they were trapped in a Horry County Sheriff transport van while crossing an overtopped bridge over the Little Pee Dee River on Hwy 76, during rising floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Marion County, S.C. on September 19, 2018.
Last night, we had a tragedy.
Just hours before closing the road, officials with the S.C. Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) had announced the reopening of the vital east coast thoroughfare - which experienced severe flooding in low-lying areas between mile markers 181 and 190 in Dillon County, S.C. earlier this week.
As for Nicolette's sister, she has one question: "What would prompt you to endanger your life and the life of the people the back, why?" said Donnela.
Justin Bamberg, a state lawmaker and lawyer who has represented the families of several people injured or killed by law enforcement officers, said Wednesday he's perplexed by the decision to transport anyone in such uncertain weather conditions.
The incident brings Florence's death toll to 37.
Thompson said deputies rode around a barrier blocking the road where the incident happened on the way to the facility.