Houston Police Officer Drowns in Patrol Car During Harvey Response

Police Chief Art Acevedo joined the Houston force in November 2016
Police Chief Art Acevedo joined the Houston force in November 2016
Author

30 August, 2017

A Houston police officer drowned Sunday morning when he was trapped by floodwaters brought to the region by Harvey, city officials confirmed Tuesday afternoon.

He is survived by his adult son and daughter and his wife, Cheryl, who told him not to go into work in the heavy rains.

Police Chief Art Acevedo said Sergeant Steve Perez, 60, drowned when his vehicle entered high waters as he drove to work on Sunday. The officer's wife had urged her husband not to go to work that day because conditions were too risky, as did his father-in-law, Acevedo said.

"Sometimes you find a way to make it happen, or you die trying", Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at the news conference Tuesday. A drive team volunteer search and rescue force joined the search for Perez, but because of the unsafe waters, they weren't able to recover his body until 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

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Perez's death is the 15th Harvey-related fatality, with the toll expected to rise as the floodwaters recede. They narrowed their search to the Hardy Tollway and Beltway 8, 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.

At the news conference, Acevedo became choked up describing Perez as "one of the sweetest people I've ever met".

Harvey made landfall in Rockport as a Category 4 hurricane with winds topping 130 miles per hour.


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