$1 million awarded to family of woman who drowned in SC sheriff’s office van during Hurricane Florence

Around the South

Nicolette French, also known as Nicolette Green

CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) – A settlement for the family of a woman who drowned while being transported in an Horry County Sheriff’s Office van during Hurricane Florence has been approved.

Linda Green, a relative of drowning victim Nicolette Green, along with attorneys, were awarded $1 million, according to the settlement agreement filed Monday.

Nicolette French, also known as Nicolette Green, was being taken to an appointment for mental health services when she drowned in the caged van driven by Horry County deputies in late 2018. The caged compartment was manufactured by American Aluminum Accessories.

Linda claimed previously that American Aluminum Accessories had a liability insurance policy worth $1 million at the time of the incident. A petition for approval of a settlement filed in the 15th Judicial Circuit on May 28 stated that American Aluminum Accessories had agreed to the settlement of $1 million, $500,000 for the wrongful death claim, and $500,000 for the survival claims.

Linda Green, on behalf of the estate, is also suing Horry County, the Horry County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Phillip Thompson, Elizabeth Orlando, and the two now-former deputies that were driving the transport van that French died in during Hurricane Florence.

French was being transported from Waccamaw Center for Mental Health to McLeod Behavior Health Services in Darlington. The van, which also carrying Wendy Newton, had been modified to include a caged compartment with only one exit door and one path of escape in case of an emergency.

The family claims in the lawsuits that French would not have drowned if not for the “deliberate indifference of Defendant Horry County to the safety of the passengers for whose transport the County purchased, maintained and modified the vehicle.”

Former deputies Stephen Flood and Joshua Bishop were the ones in charge of the van that night and a disciplinary report says Flood was the driver and that he “made a conscious decision to drive a transport van around a barricade and into floodwaters (a substantial risk) that resulted in the death of patients after being provided a safe route by supervisors to avoid floodwaters.”

Both Flood and Bishop were terminated from the Sheriff’s Office in October 2018. They were indicted by a Grand Jury in 2019.

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