HOUSTON, TEXAS (CBSMiami) — Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner confirmed that a 34-year veteran of the force died while driving to work in massive flooding due to Harvey.
Sgt. Steve Perez, 60, drowned after becoming trapped in his patrol car in flood waters.
“This morning at 8 a.m. the dive team was out there again, which was their #1 priority and, within 20 minutes, they found him,” said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.
The Houston Chronicle reports that the 30-year officer was heading to work Sunday when the high water left him trapped on Interstate 45 in north Harris County. He could not get himself of his car.
“Unfortunately, in the darkness, Sergeant Perez drove into an underpass that’s about 16-and-a-half feet, drove into the water and he died in a flood, in a drowning-type event,” said Acevedo.
Perez’s family told him not to go to work because the flooding conditions were so bad. To that, Acevedo said Perez told them, “We’ve got work to do.”
Houston Police issued a statement on his death saying in part,
“The death of Sergeant Perez reminds us of the dangers that police officers willingly face every day in order to serve this great city. We will go through this extremely difficult and trying time with heavy hearts sadly reminded of the ultimate sacrifice one of our own paid.”
Miami-Dade Police shared their support for the Houston police department over social media saying, “Sending our love to the @and family of Sergeant Steve Perez who died protecting the community he loved 💔.”
Perez is survived by his wife, son and daughter.