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Stephen Flood and Joshua Bishop, bottom left, appeared for a bond hearing Friday in Marion County.

The 12th Circuit Solicitor’s Office on Friday dropped both involuntary manslaughter charges against a former Horry County Sheriff’s Office deputy who was arrested after the drowning deaths of two women in the back of a sheriff’s office van during Hurricane Florence.

Joshua Bishop was in the van but wasn’t driving when another deputy maneuvered around a barricade and drove into the floodwaters of the Little Pee Dee River on Sept. 18, 2018. 

The van was transporting two mental health patients from Horry County to facilities farther inland. Wendy Newton, 45, of Shalotte, North Carolina, and Nicolette Green, 43, of Myrtle Beach, both drowned when the van got stuck in the flood. The water pushed the van against a barricade, closing off the only exit point the women could have used to escape the rising water.

In May, former HCSO deputy Stephen Flood, who was driving the van, was found guilty of two counts of reckless homicide and two counts of involuntary manslaughter. He received an 18-year prison sentence. Bishop's charges were dropped.

“The overwhelming evidence that was admissible and relevant would have shown that my client is a hero," said Bishop’s attorney Bert Von Herrmann. "He went back and tried to save the two girls, he saved his partner’s life. Really, from a law enforcement perspective, after everybody testified in the Flood case, it became pretty apparent what the dynamics really were and I think [Clements] did a very good job in his efforts to hold the proper people responsible.” 

Evidence from the court proceedings showed Bishop was able to escape the van and tried to shoot the padlocks on the doors but was unable to break through. When Flood got stuck in the window of the van while trying to escape, Bishop helped get him out. 

Both Flood and Bishop were fired before being charged. Records obtained by MyHorryNews.com said Bishop didn’t do enough to stop Flood from driving around the barricade and through the water.

But Von Herrmann stressed that his client did everything he could to help.

“It’s been a huge burden on him,” the attorney said. “He still has strong feelings about what he went through. That’s gonna weigh on him and his family the rest of their lives. There was not going to be an outcome that would bring those young ladies back no matter what, so the system of justice did the best that it absolutely could.” 

Neither the 12th Circuit Solicitor’s Office nor the Horry County Sheriff’s Office immediately responded to requests for comment.

Deputies terminated after deaths of mental health patients in van that wrecked in floodwater
Report: Deputies made ‘conscious decision’ to take transport van into floodwater before fatal wreck
Charges to be filed against former Horry Sheriff’s Office deputies in drowning case
Cases will move forward for Horry County deputies charged in drowning deaths
Former Horry deputy gets 18-year sentence for drowning deaths of mental health patients
Horry County reaches multi-million dollar settlement with families of women who drowned in transport van

Reach Christian by email or through Twitter and Facebook with the handle @ChrisHBoschult. 

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Christian is Texas native who welcomes any chance to do a story in the marsh or on the beach. He's a dog park regular and enjoys spending time in the kitchen. He says his margarita recipes are better than anything you'll find in a restaurant.

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