Wendy Newton, 45, and Nicolette Green, 43
COLUMBIA, S.C. — A deputy in South Carolina whose police van was swept away by floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, drowning two women seeking mental health treatment trapped in a cage in the back was sentenced Thursday to 18 years in prison. A Marion County jury found former Horry County deputy Stephen Flood guilty of two counts of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of reckless homicide.
Judges ordered Wendy Newton, 45, and Nicolette Green, 43, to be involuntarily committed the day they died in September 2018, but their families said they were not violent. Newton was only seeking medicine for her fear and anxiety and Green’s family said she was committed to a mental facility at a regular mental health appointment by a counselor she had never seen before.
The floodwaters swept the police van off its wheels in September 2018 and pinned it against a guardrail, preventing the women from being able to get out the sliding door they used to enter the van. Flood and a deputy with him did not have a key to a second door and there was no emergency escape hatch, according to testimony from the trial streamed by WMBF-TV.
Horry County deputy Stephen “Flood”
Circuit Court Judge William Seales sentenced Flood to five years in prison on each involuntary manslaughter charge and four years on each reckless homicide charge and ordered the sentences served back-to-back.
National guard troops put up barricades on U.S. Highway 76 just outside Nichols, but Flood drove around them after briefly talking to the soldiers.
“Maybe it wounded his pride or stubbornness. I don’t know. He pushed forward into water that was not just standing in a tall puddle, but it was rushing, crossing the guardrail. All of it was the Little Pee Dee River by then,” Solicitor Ed Clements said.