Deputies lacked key for cage as 2 women drowned in van
COLUMBIA | Two women drowned in
the back of a locked cage while being taken for involuntary commitment to a mental hospital because the police van they were in took an unsafe route and rolled over, and deputies lacked a key or bolt cutters to free them, an attorney for one of the women’s families told South Carolina lawmakers Thursday.
The deputies, who drove around barricades and a manned checkpoint and ignored the safer route they had been given to avoid floodwaters from Hurricane Florence, bear plenty of responsibility for the deaths of Wendy Newton and Nicolette Green, said Tommy Brittain, an attorney for
The deputies have been fired, and a criminal investigation into their actions is coming to an end.
Neither woman was violent, their advocates said during a Senate subcommittee hearing.
Newton was only seeking medicine for her fear and anxiety the day she died, the attorney said. Green’s family said she was committed at a regular mental health appointment by a councilor she had never seen before.
A system in South Carolina that treats nonviolent mental health patients more like criminals also contributed greatly to the women’s deaths,
Mr. Brittain told a state Senate panel Thursday.