South Carolina state senators are looking to change how mental health patients are transported after two women drowned when a sheriff’s office van washed into floodwaters during Hurricane Florence earlier this year.
The Post and Courier reports four senators on a Senate subcommittee are considering increases to the training requirements for law enforcement officials who transport mentally ill patients.
They are also considering allowing family members to take individuals who are seeking treatment.
Monday’s meeting was the second one since Nicolette Green and Wendy Newton died after a Horry County sheriff’s van drove into flood waters on U.S. Highway 76 in Marion County.
Two Horry County sheriff’s deputies, who have since been fired, were able to escape the van. However, the two women and deputies could not open the reinforced rear door to help the patients escape.
State law requires hospitals contact law enforcement to transport patients deemed to be a risk to themselves or other people.
Subcommittee chair State Sen. Marlin Kimpson, D-Charleston, said the goal is to make sure the state is treating mental illness as a health issue and not an issue for law enforcement.