Funeral held for Houston police sergeant who died on his way to work during Harvey

Rescue boats fill a flooded street as flood victims are evacuated as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

(ABC News) — A Houston police sergeant who died trying to get to work during Hurricane Harvey was remembered this morning at a funeral service, where his son called him the “greatest protector, defender and rescuer.”

Sgt. Steve Perez, a 34-year veteran, “was bravely serving the city of Houston in the face of this unprecedented weather-related disaster when his vehicle entered high water,” the Houston Police Department said.

Perez, a father and husband, died two days shy of his 61st birthday, according to the police department.

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He is survived by his wife, son and daughter, as well as his mother and sisters.

At today’s service, his son, Maverick Perez, said, “Our dad was the greatest protector, defender and rescuer.”

“His love was pure and endless,” he added. “His love convinced us we could do anything.”

“I know my dad is at peace,” Maverick Perez said. “Although he will be forever missed, I feel inspired knowing he could accomplish more than he could ever dream.”

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo was emotional last month as he recounted Steve Perez’s death.

On Aug. 27, as Harvey flooded the Houston area, Steve Perez left his home at 4 a.m. in heavy rain to try to get to work, Acevedo said. He later called in to say he had been driving for over two hours to get to his duty station, but he could not find a path, so he followed protocol and started heading to a secondary station, Acevedo said.

On Aug. 28, Steve Perez wasn’t present at roll call and no one could reach him, prompting an extensive search, Acevedo said. The next day, a dive team found his body; he had driven from an underpass into the water and died, Acevedo said.

According to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, when Steve Perez’s wife asked him to reconsider going into work, he told her, “I’ve got work to do.”

“The death of Sgt. Perez reminds us of the dangers that police officers willingly face every day in order to serve this great City,” the police department said. “We will go through this extremely difficult and trying time with heavy hearts sadly reminded of the ultimate sacrifice one of our own paid.”