HOUSTON (NBC News) – A Houston Police officer drowned in Hurricane Harvey floodwaters while trying to get to work.
Chief Art Acevedo, Houston Police Department, today confirmed the death of 60-year-old Sergeant Steve Perez, who is a 34-year veteran of the force.
He was last seen Sunday, leaving for work.
Fellow officers launched a search when Perez didn’t show for roll-call on Monday, eventually tracking his vehicle to a flooded underpass.
The Houston Police Department dive team located the vehicle, officers waited until morning to recover him.
“Because as much as we wanted to recover him last night, we could not put more officers at risk for what we knew in our hearts was going to be a recovery mission,” said Chief Acevedo, holding back tears.
Around 8 a.m. this morning, the dive team continued with the rescue at the flooded underpass. According to Chief Acevedo, within 20 minutes the team was able to find Sgt. Perez.
“Unfortunately, in the darkness, Sgt. Perez drove into an underpass that’s about 16 1/2 feet, drove into the water, and he died in a flood – in a drowning-type event,” said Chief Acevedo.
Chief Acevedo says Sgt. Perez was one of the sweetest people in the department, calling him a gentle public servant.
Sgt. Perez’ wife told Chief Acevedo that she and his father-in-law both asked him not to go to work that morning.
“And his response was ‘we’ve got work to do,'” said Chief Acevedo.