August 29, 2017 5:01 pm

Harvey aftermath: Police officer killed by flooding while on his way to help relief efforts

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo gave a passionate tribute to officer Steve Perez who drowned in the Harvey floods as he tried to get to work.

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Police Sgt. Steve Perez has died after he became trapped in his patrol car as he was driving to work in the aftermath of the deadly Hurricane Harvey, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner confirmed.

The 34-year veteran officer was heading to work Sunday when he drove under an underpass on Interstate 45 and became trapped in high water in north Harris County.

He then couldn’t get himself out of his car, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo confirmed on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Hurricane Harvey: More mega-shelters to open amid record-breaking flood

Perez is the 15th confirmed death in the aftermath of Harvey, which at its worse was a Category 4 hurricane.

More than 17,000 people have sought refuge in Texas shelters and that number seemed certain to increase, the American Red Cross said.

Perez, who was set to turn 60 in two days, is survived by his wife and two children.

“Steve is one of the sweetest people,” Acevedo said.

He said Perez, who was set to turn 60 in two days, was hard-working and gentle, noting that the officer spent hours trying to get to work.

Acevedo said Perez’ wife asked him not to go into work because the conditions were so bad but the officer replied, “We’ve got work to do.”

WATCH BELOW: Dramatic video from Harvey storm aftermath

The police chief said they looked for Perez Monday but had to abandon the search because of bad conditions.

“We could not put more officers at risk for what we knew in our hearts would be a recovery mission,” Acevedo said, with tears in his eyes.

Turner honoured Perez on Twitter, saying the officer “fulfilled his purpose.”

*With files from the Associated Press

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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