Sheriff: Guard waved van around barricade before 2 drowned

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Officials say South Carolina deputies — after being waved through by National Guardsmen — drove a transport van around a barricade blocking a flooded road shortly before two mental patients drowned inside.

Horry (OR-ree) County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Brooke Holden told The Associated Press on Thursday that Guardsmen allowed deputies to drive around a barrier the night of Sept. 18 because they were in a law enforcement vehicle.

State police opened a probe after the women’s deaths on a flooded Marion County road. Deputies were transporting the patients as part of a court order as flood waters rose in the area due to heavy rains from Hurricane Florence.

The deputies have been placed on leave.

A South Carolina National Guard spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

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