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'Stupidity and selfishness' led to deaths of two patients who drowned in van

NBC News logo NBC News 1/4/2019 Erik Ortiz
a man standing in a room: Image: Former Horry County deputies Stephen Flood, left, and Joshua Bishop appear for a bond hearing in South Carolina on Jan. 4, 2019. © WMBF Image: Former Horry County deputies Stephen Flood, left, and Joshua Bishop appear for a bond hearing in South Carolina on Jan. 4, 2019.

The mother of a woman who drowned in floodwaters while riding in the back of a South Carolina sheriff's office van blamed her death on the "stupidity and selfishness" of the two deputies entrusted with her care, and told a judge Friday that "no amount of justice" would heal her heart.

The family members of Nicolette Green, 43, as well as a second woman who drowned in the van, Wendy Newton, 45, spoke through tears while addressing the court during a bond hearing for the former Horry County deputies.

Linda Green, Nicolette's mother, said she is haunted daily by "the horror" of her daughter gasping for air as the rising waters trapped her last September in the wake of Hurricane Florence.

Both women were mental health patients and being transported to a behavioral center as part of their treatment when the incident occurred.

Linda Green said her daughter had been slowly improving after suffering from bouts of schizophrenia, and had willingly gone with the deputies as part of a routine to monitor her medication.

"We, as her family, realized it was helping her and we were getting her back as a daughter, and a mother, and as a sister," Linda Green said. "We were overjoyed at getting her back with us. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally."

Rose Hershberger, Green's oldest daughter and a senior in high school, lamented about not having her mother during milestones in her life, like picking out a prom dress or her forthcoming graduation.

"Every night is just a constant lack of sleep," Hershberger said. "All I see is my mother, and I hear her screams and her cries."

a person posing for the camera: Imag: Nicolette Green © Provided by NBCU News Group, a division of NBCUniversal Media LLC Imag: Nicolette Green

Cheryl Graham, the associate chief magistrate in Marion County, later responded that "to say that this is a tragedy is an understatement … May God help us all."

Graham set bond at $30,000 for Stephen Flood, who was charged with two counts each of reckless homicide and involuntary manslaughter, and at $10,000 for Joshua Bishop, who was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Attorneys for the men argued that both are well-respected in the community, had many years of experience with the sheriff's office and not flight risks. Bishop's attorney told the court that his client's wife is due to give birth next month, and that "his heart hurts every day for what has occurred."

The next hearing date was set for Feb. 26.

Both men were fired following the deaths of Green and Newton. While Horry County officials said Flood went around a barrier meant to prevent vehicles from entering hazardous areas, he had been waved through by National Guardsmen.

Meanwhile, the women were locked in the back of the van. The deputies said neither could be reached once they realized they were surrounded by floodwaters. Amid the chaos, the van ended up on its side and rested against a guardrail, and the deputies said they were unable to unlock the back door.

They waited on the roof of the van until they could be rescued, authorities said.


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