Daughter of woman who died in South Carolina sheriff's van flooding wants answers

The daughter of a woman who died when the sheriff's van they were riding in became trapped by Florence floodwaters in South Carolina said Wednesday she doesn't understand how the accident could have occurred.

Rose Hershberger, 19, said she was stunned when she learned that the Horry County Sheriff's Office van carrying her mother, Nicolette Green, 43, and another woman became trapped Tuesday night.

"I was in absolute shock," she said.

Green and the other woman in the van, Wendy Winston, 45, did not survive. The two sheriff's deputies were rescued and placed on administrative leave while the accident is being investigated, the sheriff's office said.

Both women have been described by authorities as mental health patients who were being transported from their hospitals near the coast to a behavioral center further inland in the city of Florence. The tropical storm, which had been a hurricane, caused major flooding in parts of the Carolinas.

"I was confused as to why someone would, or the police officers would drive down a road that was in an area that was known for flooding," Hershberger said.

"If they saw the water—they have their own, you know, 'turn around, don't drown.' They have that everywhere," she said, referring to the slogan used to warn drivers about floodwaters.

Officials have warned people not to drive into standing or moving floodwaters in the days since Florence came ashore on the North Carolina coast as a Category 1 hurricane and swamped the Carolinas. They have also said that many fatal victims of hurricanes or tropical storms die by drowning.

At least 36 deaths have been blamed on Florence or its aftermath, with most of the deaths in North Carolina.

The Horry County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday that "officers were transporting Green and Newton following involuntary commitments by a physician."

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Destruction caused by Hurricane Florence
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Destruction caused by Hurricane Florence
NEW BERN, NC - SEPTEMBER 14: Neighborhoods are flooded after the storm surge from Hurricane Florence flooded the Neuse River September 14, 2018 in New Bern, North Carolina. Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm and flooding from the heavy rain is forcing hundreds of people to call for emergency rescues in the area around New Bern, North Carolina, which sits at the confluence of the Nueces and Trent rivers. The storm has since been downgraded to a tropical storm. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
NEW BERN, NC - SEPTEMBER 14: Homes are flooded after a storm surge from Hurricane Florence flooded the Neuse River September 14, 2018 in New Bern, North Carolina. Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm and flooding from the heavy rain is forcing hundreds of people to call for emergency rescues in the area around New Bern, North Carolina, which sits at the confluence of the Nueces and Trent rivers. The storm has since been downgraded to a tropical storm. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
NEW BERN, NC - SEPTEMBER 14: Volunteers from all over North Carolina help rescue residents and their pets from their flooded homes during Hurricane Florence September 14, 2018 in New Bern, North Carolina. Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm and flooding from the heavy rain is forcing hundreds of people to call for emergency rescues in the area around New Bern, North Carolina, which sits at the confluence of the Nuese and Trent rivers. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
An abandoned mini van sits on a flooded road near New Bern, NC on September 14, 2018 during Hurricane Florence. - Florence smashed into the US East Coast Friday with howling winds, torrential rains and life-threatening storm surges as emergency crews scrambled to rescue hundreds of people stranded in their homes by flood waters. Forecasters warned of catastrophic flooding and other mayhem from the monster storm, which is only Category 1 but physically sprawling and dangerous. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo credit should read LOGAN CYRUS/AFP/Getty Images)
Debris lies on the ground at a Royal Dutch Shell Plc gas station damaged during Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. Bloomberg Hurricane Florence�is delivering driving wind, pelting rain and torrential flooding to North Carolina, killing at least two people as it grinds through the region. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A fallen tree lies in front of a home during Hurricane Florence in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. Bloomberg Hurricane Florence�is delivering driving wind, pelting rain and torrential flooding to North Carolina, killing at least two people as it grinds through the region. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A fallen tree lies in front of a home during Hurricane Florence in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. Bloomberg Hurricane Florence�is delivering driving wind, pelting rain and torrential flooding to North Carolina, killing at least two people as it grinds through the region. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Residents walk along a street blocked by a fallen tree during Hurricane Florence in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. Bloomberg Hurricane Florence�is delivering driving wind, pelting rain and torrential flooding to North Carolina, killing at least two people as it grinds through the region. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW BERN, NC - SEPTEMBER 14: Neighborhoods are flooded after the storm surge from Hurricane Florence flooded the Neuse River September 14, 2018 in New Bern, North Carolina. Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm and flooding from the heavy rain is forcing hundreds of people to call for emergency rescues in the area around New Bern, North Carolina, which sits at the confluence of the Nueces and Trent rivers. The storm has since been downgraded to a tropical storm. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A house is seen destroyed from falling trees as hurricane Florence passes over in Wilmington, North Carolina on September 14, 2018. - Florence smashed into the US East Coast Friday with howling winds, torrential rains and life-threatening storm surges as emergency crews scrambled to rescue hundreds of people stranded in their homes by flood waters. Forecasters warned of catastrophic flooding and other mayhem from the monster storm, which is only Category 1 but physically sprawling and dangerous. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
A downed tree can be seen on Middle Street by the Neuse River in New Bern, North Carolina, September 14, 2018 during Hurricane Florence. - Florence smashed into the US East Coast Friday with howling winds, torrential rains and life-threatening storm surges as emergency crews scrambled to rescue hundreds of people stranded in their homes by flood waters. Forecasters warned of catastrophic flooding and other mayhem from the monster storm, which is only Category 1 but physically sprawling and dangerous. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo credit should read LOGAN CYRUS/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A father and daughter learn that friends were injured and later died when a tree fell on their house during landfall of Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina on September 14, 2018. - A mother and her infant were killed when a tree fell on their house in Wilmington, North Carolina, the first reported fatalities from Hurricane Florence, police said Friday. Wilmington police tweeted that the father was transported to the hospital with unspecified injuries. Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wilmington on Friday morning, battering the coastal city with strong winds and torrential rain. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
WILMINGTON, NC- SEPTEMBER 14: An unidentified women reacts to news of a home that a large tree fell on with three trapped after Hurricane Florence hit the area, on September 14, 2018 in Wilmington, North Carolina. One man was taken out of the home in critical condition. Hurricane Florence hit Wilmington as a category 1 storm causing widespread damage and flooding along the Carolina coastline. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Flood waters from the Trent River inundate a park in Pollocksville, North Carolina on September 14, 2018 during Hurricane Florence. - Florence smashed into the US East Coast Friday with howling winds, torrential rains and life-threatening storm surges as emergency crews scrambled to rescue hundreds of people stranded in their homes by flood waters. Forecasters warned of catastrophic flooding and other mayhem from the monster storm, which is only Category 1 but physically sprawling and dangerous. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo credit should read LOGAN CYRUS/AFP/Getty Images)
A vehicle sits submerged in floodwaters due to Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S., on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. Florences�plodding pace and catastrophic flooding could produce as much as $20 billion in damage and has already caused at least six deaths, even as it has weakened to a tropical storm. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WILMINGTON, NC - SEPTEMBER 15: Mike Pollack searches for a drain in the yard of his flooded waterfront home a day after Hurricane Florence hit the area, on September 15, 2018 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm Friday and at least five deaths have been attributed to the storm, which continues to produce heavy rain and strong winds extending out nearly 200 miles. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Debris lies on the ground at a Royal Dutch Shell Plc gas station damaged during Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S., on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. Florences�plodding pace and catastrophic flooding could produce as much as $20 billion in damage and has already caused at least six deaths, even as it has weakened to a tropical storm. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Flood waters lap at a high water warning sign that was partially pushed over by Hurricane Florence on Oak Island, North Carolina, U.S., September 15, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
An abandoned car's hazard lights continue to flash as it sits submerged in a rising flood waters during pre-dawn hours after Hurricane Florence struck in Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S., September 15, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A street light is downed on a flooded road as Hurricane Florence comes ashore on Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S., September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Water from the Neuse river floods the streets during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
The Union Point Park Complex is seen flooded as the Hurricane Florence comes ashore in New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A downed tree rests on a house during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of Wilson, North Carolina, U.S. September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
A downed tree rests on a house during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of Wilson, North Carolina, U.S., September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Boats pushed away from the dock are seen on a street during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Rescue personnel use a small transport a flood victim and her animals to dry land from heavy rains from Florence, now a tropical storm, in New Bern, NC., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
A sailboat is shoved up against a house and a collapsed garage Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, after heavy wind and rain from Florence, now a tropical storm, blew through New Bern, N.C. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
A pickup truck drives on a flooded road past a farm house that is surrounded by flooded fields from tropical storm Florence in Hyde County, NC., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
A downed tree uprooted by Hurricane Florence lies next to homes in New Bern, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
A member of the U.S. Coast Guard walks down Mill Creek Road checking houses after tropical storm Florence hit Newport N.C., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)
A member of the U.S. Coast Guard walks down Mill Creek Road checking houses after tropical storm Florence hit Newport N.C., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)
A 40-foot yacht lies in the yard of a storm-damaged home on East Front Street in New Bern, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. The boat washed up with storm surge and debris from Hurricane Florence. (Gray Whitley/Sun Journal via AP)
Resident Joseph Eudi looks at flood debris and storm damage from Hurricane Florence at a home on East Front Street in New Bern, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (Gray Whitley/Sun Journal via AP)
FILE - This Feb. 19, 2014 file photo shows the L.V. Sutton Complex operated by Duke Energy from the Sutton Lake landing in Wilmington, N.C. Duke Energy says heavy rains from Florence have caused a slope to collapse at a coal ash landfill at a closed power station near the North Carolina coast. Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said Saturday night, Sept. 15, 2018, that about 2,000 cubic yards of ash have been displaced at the L. V. Sutton Power Station outside Wilmington. (AP Photo/Randall Hill, File)
FILE - In this Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 12, 2018 file photo provided by DroneBase, an aerial view of the Cape Fear River, N.C., in Buckhorn, N.C. is shown ahead of Hurricane Florence. Record flooding is expected on North Carolina's Cape Fear River in the coming week, and signs of the coming flood are already apparent. The Cape Fear River is predicted to crest at 62 feet (nearly 19 meters) in Fayetteville on Tuesday, Sept. 18. (DroneBase via AP, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 file photo, a man jogs down the boardwalk by the Cape Fear River in downtown Wilmington, N.C., as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast. Record flooding is expected on Cape Fear River in the coming week, and signs of the coming flood are already apparent. The Cape Fear River is predicted to crest at 62 feet (nearly 19 meters) in Fayetteville on Tuesday, Sept. 18. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018 file photo, Joe Gore, left, and Joshua Adcock prepare for Hurricane Florence as they board up windows on a home in Emerald Isle N.C. Before and after a hurricane, Ace is the place. And Home Depot, Lowe’s, and many other hardware and building supply outlets. Not surprisingly, these companies plan for storms such as Hurricane Florence all year. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland, File)
Residents of an assisted living facility are evacuated to a church as a precaution against potential flooding the city could see from tropical storm Florence in Fayetteville, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. After blowing ashore as a hurricane with 90 mph (145 kph) winds, Florence virtually parked itself much of the weekend atop the Carolinas as it pulled warm water from the ocean and hurled it onshore. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Members of the Nebraska Task Force 1 urban search and rescue team help load an elderly resident onto a bus as they evacuate an assisted living facility to a church as a precaution against potential flooding the city could see from tropical storm Florence in Fayetteville, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Ernestine Crumpler, 80, is helped by members of the Nebraska Task Force 1 urban search and rescue team as they evacuate an assisted living facility to a church as a precaution against potential flooding the city could see from tropical storm Florence in Fayetteville, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Residents of an assisted living facility sit on a bus as they are evacuated to a church as a precaution against potential flooding the city could see from tropical storm Florence in Fayetteville, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Members of the Nebraska Task Force 1 urban search and rescue team help load an elderly resident onto a bus as they evacuate an assisted living facility to a church as a precaution against potential flooding the city could see from tropical storm Florence in Fayetteville, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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Hershberger said her mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia three years ago and was on medication for it. On Tuesday, Green went to a new therapist who determined she needed to be committed to a mental institution. The closest place that would take her insurance was in Darlington, South Carolina, Hershberger said.

The incident is being investigated by the State Law Enforcement Division, the sheriff's office said. A traffic investigation and an internal investigation are also being conducted.

"I feel very upset and kind of betrayed, because my mom was a very, very trusting person," Hershberger said.

"And she still put her trust in the deputies that were supposed to take care of her and made sure she got there safely, and the fact that they were able to get out but my mom and the other woman wasn't makes me feel really like hurt and betrayed by them," Hershberger said.

Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson said Wednesday that the deputies tried to help the patients "for a long period of time," but finally took refuge on top of their vehicle as the waters climbed higher.

Thompson said there were barriers on the road, and the van may have gone around them.

"Obviously it appears that they did. My question is, I want to know why. What were the circumstances and what happened at that particular time," he said in a news conference Wednesday night, according to NBC affiliate WBMF of Myrtle Beach.

Thompson said the sheriff's department transported around 1,200 patients last year and has never had anything like this happen, He said the families of the victims were in their prayers.

"We're sorry. We take a lot of pride in what we do. We work hard to protect and to serve our citizens, and we're just so very sorry that this event has taken place," he said.

The vehicle was traveling west on Highway 76 from Conway, South Carolina, to Darlington when the van was overtaken by floodwaters about a half-mile from the Little Pee Dee River, the sheriff's office has said.

"Tonight's incident is a tragedy," Thompson said in a statement Tuesday night. "Just like you, we have questions we want answered."

Hershberger said she expected her mother to go to her appointment and return Tuesday, just like normal.

"We were all going to watch movies together," she said. "... In my head, it's hard for me to accept the fact that my mom is now dead."

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