Houston Police Officer Dies Responding to Harvey
SAN ANGELO, TX -- A Houston police officer was found dead in the flood water caused by tropical storm Harvey Sunday morning, according to Houston Police Chief Acevedo.
The Houston Police Department (HPD) said Sgt. Steve Perez,60, died in the line of duty after responding to the severe weather conditions caused by the storm.
Perez, who worked as a traffic enforcement officer, left his home around 4 a.m. Sunday and attempted to drive to his duty station in downtown Houston, "but couldn't find a path," due to the flooding which had made many roads impassable, Acevedo said during a news conference.
Investigators determined Perez attempted to for two and half hours to find his way, before contacting his supervisor to say he would report to his secondary duty station, the chief said.
On Monday morning, Perez's supervisor noted his absence from roll call, after contacting his family, they launched a search, Acevedo said.
Investigators were able to narrow down Perez's last location to the Hardy Toll Road in Houston, Acevedo stated. The dive team was called to make a search, but due to the treacherous conditions of the storm on Monday night, the operation was delayed.
"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.
On Tuesday morning at 8 a.m., the dive team found Perez's body, Acevedo said. Investigators believe Perez drove into floodwater and died " in a drowning type event," the chief said.
HPD wrote on their Facebook, " We will go through this extremely difficult and trying time with heavy hearts sadly reminded of the ultimate sacrifice one of our own paid. Words cannot adequately express the sense of loss the Perez family and their extended Houston Police family are experiencing. "
Perez served the Houston Police Department for 34 years.
" We are proud of the courage of this 34-year veteran. Like [Perez], we will not waiver and we will not stop until we meet the immediate safety and security needs of the community [Perez] and his HPD family love to serve," HPD stated.