On Sunday, Houston police officer Steve Perez, days away from turning 61, determined to rescue those in distress from the effects of Hurricane Harvey, was cautioned by his wife and her father, a Korean War veteran, to stay home from work because it was too dangerous. Perez, unaware he would die in the attempt, responded, “We’ve got work to do.”
Perez left home at 4 a.m. and drove more than two hours to reach his duty station in downtown Houston, but could not find a path. Following department protocol, he tried to report to the nearest station, in Kingwood. But Perez made a wrong turn, winding up driving into roughly 16 feet of flood water, where he drowned.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo cried at a Tuesday press conference as he recounted what happened to Perez. He stated: "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.” He added, “He was a sweet, gentle public servant.”
Acevedo continued, “Here’s a man who didn’t spend 20 minutes and then come back and say, ‘Hey, I tried,’; he spent close to two and a half hours because he has that in his DNA.” He said he told Perez's wife:
“Let me ask you something, ma’am, you’re a person of faith. If the Lord was going to take him today, how do you think he would want to go, laying in bed, watching a disaster, or doing what he’s done for 34 years?” And the smile that overcame that woman’s face, his beautiful wife, said it all: If it was his turn to go, she said, this is the way he would have wanted to go.
Acevedo concluded, "We will continue. This police department is resilient, as is this community and I look forward to taking this man and giving him the honors and his family that he so richly deserves."