News broke early Tuesday afternoon that a veteran officer with the Houston Police Department lost his life while reporting to work Sunday morning.
The officer, Sergeant Steve Perez, had been with the department for more than 30 years at the time of his death. According to The Houston Chronicle, the officer’s car got stuck in high water where I-45 and the Hardy Toll Road meet.
Chronicling the incident during a press conference, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said that Perez, in attempting to report to duty on Sunday, was waylaid from his primary workstation and looked to report to a secondary location.
On the following day, Monday the 28, during a routine roll call, Perez was noticed as absent.
Knowing that Perez was a dedicated employee who would not neglect to inform his supervisor of his absence, coworkers called Perez’s wife, who said that she hadn’t seen him since 4 a.m. the day before.
After turning up nothing on Monday — even with the help of what Acevedo called the “Cajun Navy,” help from Louisiana — the team began again on Tuesday morning, with divers searching near Hardy Tollway and Beltway 8.
He continued, saying that it appears that in the darkness Perez drove into an underpass and died in a flood.
“Steve was one of the sweetest people I’ve met in this department,” Acevedo said.
Speaking of his family, Acevedo said that both Perez’s wife and father-in-law urged him not to go to work that day “because conditions were so bad.”
“And his response was, ‘we’ve got work to do,'” Acevedo said.
Perez’s death brings the total lives lost as a result of Hurricane Harvey to 15.
Acevedo then mentioned the words of consolation that he expressed to Perez’s wife, doing his best to keep his composure throughout.
“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,” Acevedo asked Perez’s widow.
“And the smile that overcame that woman’s face, his beautiful wife, said it all,” he added. “‘If it was his turn to go,’ she said, ‘this is the way he would have wanted to go.'”
Watch the emotion press conference below, via CNN.