Bayou City

The Victims of Hurricane Harvey: Harris County ME Confirms 25 Deaths

The Victims of Hurricane Harvey: Harris County ME Confirms 25 Deaths
Photo by Doogie Roux
The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, the county medical examiner's office, has released the circumstances detailing briefly how 25 people in Harris County died during Hurricane Harvey.

The 25 are part of at least 44 total deaths reported in Texas so far, from Orange and Jefferson Counties in Beaumont, where at least three died, down to Aransas County in Rockport, where one died after the hurricane first hit. At least three died in Galveston County, two in Montgomery County and two in Fort Bend County, in Fulshear.

The number is only expected to rise as floodwaters continue to recede and first responders begin going block to block, door to door, searching for anyone left behind. Below, we recount how Harvey took each flood victim confirmed in Harris County and who they were, based on any information about them available so far. Identifying information is not available for all of them yet, but we will continue to update this story as recovery continues. On Friday, the Institute of Forensic Sciences is investigating at least seven additional flood-related deaths.

Batool Qasem, age 76: Qasem was discovered in high water near her flooded vehicle around 9:15 on Saturday, August 26 at on Warrenton Drive near South Gessner, near the overflowing Buffalo Bayou in west Houston.

Agnes Stanley, age 89:
Stanely was found around 10:30 Sunday, August 27 in four feet of water inside her home on Meyerwood Drive. She lived not far from Brays Bayou and the Willow Waterhole, just behind 610 South Loop West. Stanley, a retired nurse, was a longtime volunteer with the Houston Audubon Docent Guild, which leads education programs at the Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary.

Alexander Kwoksum Sung, age 64: Sung was discovered in flood waters and among debris inside his clock-repair shop, Accu-Tyme, around 2:40 Sunday, August 27. Sung had owned the South Houston shop for the past 30 years, and had learned to repair clocks as a young teenager in China, where he immigrated from in h is 20s, his daughter told the Washington Post.

Travis Lynn Callihan, age 45: Callihan had fallen into floodwaters while trying to climb out of his vehicle. First responders took him to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Memorial City. He was pronounced dead at 3:11 p.m. on Monday, August 28.

click to enlarge Sergeant Steve Perez - HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT
Sergeant Steve Perez
Houston Police Department
Sergeant Steve Perez, age 60: Perez, a 34-year veteran of the Houston Police Department, was on his way to work early Sunday morning when he ran into high-water on the Hardy Toll Road and drowned. He was discovered in 14 feet of water by the dive team on Tuesday, August 29. Perez had left his home at 4 a.m. to report for duty on one of the city's most trying days for first responders in history, telling his wife, "We've got work to do," Police Chief Art Acevedo said. Acevedo called him a "sweet, gentle public servant" and a man of faith. "Steve wasn't just taken from the Houston Police Department," Acevedo said. "He wasn't just taken from the City of Houston, he was taken from the people of Houston.

Andrew Pasek, age 25: On Tuesday around 2:30 p.m., Pasek and a friend had returned to Bear Creek 1 subdivision near Highway 6 and Clay Road to retrieve his sister's cat, left behind while the family rushed to evacuate. While walking in the yard in knee-deep water, he stumbled and grabbed onto a lamppost, which electrocuted him. Pasek was an Eagle Scout who worked in the automotive industry, his family told KPRC. His family set up a GoFundMe page here to go toward funeral expenses.

Jorge Raul Perez, age 33, and Yahir Rubio-Vizuet, 45: Two Daily Mail journalist's first-hand account of a boat crash appears to describe what happened to these two men, who had been risking their lives to save others stranded in the floods. Reporting on Harvey's devastation for the Mail, journalists wrote that they asked if they could come aboard a small motorboat with a dinghy attached, where they met Perez and Rubio-Vizuet. Soon after the group of five volunteer rescuers and two journalists took off, the current from the Greens Bayou began pulling the boat into submerged power lines. As the boat crashed, some, including the reporters, were able to grab onto trees and hoist themselves out of the water, but Perez and Rubio-Vizuet did not make it. On Tuesday at 3:45 p.m., Houston firefighters recovered their bodies. According to the Daily Mail journalists, Perez was a handyman with two teenage children. Rubio-Vizuet worked at a car dealership with his brothers. He had just arrived in the United States from Mexico three months ago, and was preparing to go back to visit his parents soon.

Ronald Zaring, age 82: After being evacuated from his flooded nursing home facility, Friendswood Health Care Center, Zaring was found unresponsive on the charter bus, on its way to Huntsville. According to the Harris County Institute of Forensic Science, Zaring had suffered from heart disease and pneumonia.

Belia Rojas Saldivar, age 81; Manuel Q. Saldivar, age 84; Xavier Adam Saldivar, age 8; Daisy Saldivar, age 6; Devorah Saldivar, age 16; Dominic Saldivar, age 14: The elderly couple's son was driving a white van, with the couple's four great-grandchildren in the back, over a bridge at Greens River Drive when the Greens Bayou began to take the van under, ultimately sweeping it away. The driver, Sammy Saldivar, was able to escape through the driver's side window, and Harris County sheriff's deputies would find him hanging onto a tree for his life. Deputies retrieved the van on Wednesday, August 31 on the banks of the Greens Bayou., with the six family members found inside.

Unidentified man: A man was found floating in high waters on Claiborne, residential street in a neighborhood just north of Tidwell Road and right behind the Halls Bayou. He was discovered at 10:53 a.m. on Tuesday, August 29.

Benito Cavazos Juarez , age 42: After the floodwaters receded, Cavazos Juarez was found dead in a parking lot in Northeast Houston, located at 12420 East Freeway/Holland, around 11 a.m. on Tuesday, August 29.

Calvin Oran Montalbano , age 54: A man was found in a grassy area near the EastTX Freeway, at 13401 EastTX, just south of Greens Bayou.

Wilma Ratcliffe Ellis, age 73: According to an account in the New Orleans Times-Picauyne, Cajun Navy members on a flatboat found Ellis floating in the water, lifeless. After 15 chest compressions, she started coughing and breathing, and the Cajun Navy transported her to safety at a dry gas station on Tidwell Road and Parkway Forest Drive after being unable to summon an ambulance or find her family members. She was still wearing a hospital bracelet at the time. According to the Institute of Forensic Sciences, the U.S. Coast Guard then found Ellis during a search and rescue operation and took her to LBJ Hospital, where she later died on Monday, August 28 at 6:29 p.m. In a photo taken of her in the Times-Picayune before she died, she appears strong-willed, determined to make it home.

Ruben Clifford Jordan, age 58: Jordan was found caught in a submerged tree, floating in the overflowing Horsepen Bayou in Clear Lake. He was a beloved football coach, having spent more than 28 years at Clear Cree ISD coaching high school football and 18 coaching high school track. He had just recently retired, in the summer of 2016.

Unidentified man: A man was found Monday, August 28 at 1 a.m., floating in floodwaters in an alleyway at 507 Arkansas in South Houston, one of the most hard-hit areas in the region. The alleyway was right behind the Berry Bayou.

Martin Salazar, age 51: Salazar had evacuated his home, according to the Institute of Forensic Sciences, but was found in a flooded ditch, near the Beltway and a channel of the Armand Bayou on Wednesday, August 30 at 2:44 p.m. His family had made a missing person report and also posted it to KPRC's missing-person page, saying he was last seen on August 26, at Crenshaw and Beltway 8 in Pasadena.

Michael Tucker, age 66: Tucker was found in four feet of water along FM 1942 in Baytown on Tuesday, August 29 at 9 p.m., near the Cedar Bayou, after leaving his residence.

Unidentified woman, age 32: A woman was found on Wednesday at 8:37 a.m. lying across a fence along Woodforest Boulevard, after the floodwaters receded. It was directly behind the Greens Bayou.

Unidentified man, age 65: He was hanging onto a lightpole at a Citgo gas station on Airline Drive, in Northline, when witnesses saw him fall into the floodwaters. His body was recovered on Sunday, August 27 at 9:53 a.m.

Unidentified man: A man was found in the Greens Bayou near the Ship Channel area, according to the Institute of Forensic Sciences, on Thursday, August 31, at 12:35 a.m.

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Meagan Flynn is a staff writer at the Houston Press who, despite covering criminal justice and other political squabbles in Harris County, drinks only one small cup of coffee per day.
Contact: Meagan Flynn