Houston police officer dies in Harvey flood emergency

Tuesday, August 29, 2017 08:43PM
Watch the report from Action News at 5 p.m. on Aug. 29, 2017.

HOUSTON, Texas - A Houston police officer drowned in his vehicle while trying to report to duty during Harvey's devastating flooding.

Mayor Sylvester Turner confirmed Sgt. Steve Perez died Sunday morning on his way to work.
Mayor Sylvester Turner confirms death of HPD officer

Sgt. Perez left his home in heavy rain at 4:30 a.m. to report to an investigation, even though his wife urged him to stay home because of the dangerous driving conditions.

The fallen officer's family told him not to go, and he told them, "I've got work to do."

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said Sgt. Perez drove for about two and a half hours trying to find a safe way to his station.

He called his command to report he could not get to his duty station.

Sgt. Perez followed protocol, which was to go to a second station in Kingwood.

On Monday, the chain of command realized Sgt. Perez had not shown up for work. They knew the dedicated officer would not have simply failed to show up.

Chief Acevedo said, "Every day we ask men and women to show up in good and bad conditions. Today I simply say our heart is saddened."

Perez served on the force for 34 years and was currently assigned to the traffic enforcement division.

On Monday evening, the search area was narrowed to Hardy Toll Road and Beltway 8. The dive team was called out, and the Cajun Navy volunteer search and rescue force was called to assist in the effort to locate Sgt. Perez.

The floodwaters became treacherous and it was too dangerous to go out safely at the time. His body was finally recovered at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Chief Acevedo became emotional at a press conference when he made the announcement. He said although the Houston Police Department has 6,500 employees, he knew Sgt. Perez.

As he became choked up, Chief Acevedo said, "Steve is one of the sweetest people I've ever met."

The chief recalled tearfully asking Perez's widow, "How do you think he would have wanted to go? Watching or doing what he had been doing for 34 years?"

The sergeant was just shy of his 61st birthday. He leaves behind a wife, and a son and daughter.

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