Houston police officer dies in Harvey's floodwaters

| Updated Aug 30, 2017 at 4:26pm



A veteran Houston police officer died when he drove his vehicle into floodwater covering the Hardy Toll Way, Houston Police chief Art Acevedo said Tuesday afternoon.

Sgt. Steve Perez, 60, had worked 34 years with the department, Acevedo said at a news conference.

Acevedo praised Perez's dedication to the job. The officer's wife had urged her husband not to go to work that day because conditions were too dangerous, as did his father-in-law, Acevedo said.

"And his response was, 'We've got work to do,'" the chief said, choking back tears.

Perez, who worked in the traffic enforcement division, left home around 4 a.m. Sunday to drive to his duty station downtown but "could not find a path" because flooding caused by tropical storm Harvey had made many roads impassable, Acevedo said at a news conference.

Investigators determined Perez tried for two and a half hours to find a way, before calling a supervisor and saying he'd report to his secondary duty station, the chief said.

On Monday morning, Perez's supervisors noticed he did not attend roll call and, after contacting his family, launched a search, Acevedo said.

"We made a decision to leave officers there waiting until the morning, 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," the chief said.

The dive team found Perez's body around 8 a.m. Tuesday, Acevedo said. The officer drove into floodwater and died "in a drowning type event," the chief said.