Houston police officer drowns in Harvey floodwaters

Police Chief Art Acevedo joined the Houston force in November 2016

He said although the Houston Police Department has 6,500 employees, he knew Sgt. Perez.

Some 3,000 National Guard and Texas State Guard members are serving in the affected areas to help assist the roughly 13 million people directly affected by the storm. A family of six, the Saldivar family, is also missing in the flooding and feared dead.

In the predawn hours, Perez, 60, drove two and a half hours, seeking a safe route in order to report to duty. "He could not find a path". Sgt. Perez left his home in heavy rain at 4:30 a.m.to report to an investigation, even though his wife urged him to stay home because of the risky driving conditions.

Perez then followed protocol and attempted to drive to the secondary station in Houston's Kingwood neighborhood, Acevedo said. That was the last time anyone heard from him.

"Under Texas law, punishment increases for crimes such as assault, robbery, burglary and theft if they are committed in a county declared a disaster area by the governor", the press release said.

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He added, "This man is a dedicated individual who would not just not show up for work".

Perez is survived by Cheryl, as well as a grown son and daughter.

Perez drowned after driving into a flooded underpass, Acevedo said.

The dive team went back out at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning and found Perez "within 20 minutes", Acevedo said. The floodwaters became treacherous and it was too unsafe to go out safely at the time. I made a decision to leave officers there to wait until the morning. "And every day, we ask them to get on our roads and to come to work and to strive to make this city a much better place in which to live". After about 20 minutes, they found Perez trapped in his vehicle, Acevedo said. The family has yet to be notified.

"These rescue missions [have] been so heart wrenching for our officers", Acevedo said. "It gives us collective strength". The chief recalled tearfully asking Perez's widow, "How do you think he would have wanted to go?"

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