Lawyer: Doors blocked, locked when women drowned during Florence

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) An attorney for the family of one of the two South Carolina mental health patients who drowned in the back of a police van says one door was blocked and the other was locked and the officers did not have keys.

Lawyer Tommy Brittan says the Horry County van rolled over after driving into a hole covered by floodwaters during Hurricane Florence, blocking the door.

Brittan told state senators Thursday that the officers didn't have keys or bolt cutters to get the back door open and Wendy Newton and Nicolette Green were still conscious as water filled the tiny cage in the van.

The deputies were rescued from on top of the van.

Brittan says the deputies aren't the only ones to blame. He says his client Newton was just seeking mental health medication for anxiety and fear and the hospital she visited shouldn't have had her committed.

He also says a judge should not have agreed and she should not have been moved as Hurricane Florence was flooding the region.

Authorities say the deputies drove around barricades before ending up in the floodwaters.