HOUSTON - Police Chief Art Acevedo says he still struggles to sleep after Harvey. He knew Sgt. Steven Perez and can’t forget the call he had to make to leave his body in muddy water overnight.
Perez died two weeks ago while trying to make it to work during Harvey.
“Having to make the decision to leave him there that night in that muddy water, you know, that was tough,” said Acevedo.
Acevedo says he was on the job just nine months when he met Perez. He knew the married, 60-year-old army vet loved family and serving.
Perez spent his final hours trying to make roll call and save flooding victims. When he didn't show, police tracked his phone to a dark intersection covered in water.
Acevedo didn't send divers in right away.
"We couldn't put more people at risk for what we knew was going to be a recovery,” said Acevedo. “If it was a rescue just like we did for thousands of people as police officers with flashlights in little boats in the middle of the night without training or equipment, we put our lives at risk."
Acevedo broke down sharing the news of his death with reporters. He wants Perez to be honored for his sacrifice.
He says Perez's widow inspires his officers.
“If a wife can bury husband, then a police department can move forward,” said Acevedo.
Perez will be laid to rest on Wednesday.
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