View of a seascape with incoming storm.

California man assisting in baptism carried out to sea

(RNS) The U.S. Coast Guard and local county rescue teams were searching early Monday (March 31) for a man who was swept out to sea while assisting a pastor baptize his cousin at a beach in Guadalupe, Calif., according to local media.

View of a seascape with incoming storm.

View of a seascape with incoming storm.

Pastor Maurigro Cervantes told KCOY-TV that the victim, identified as Benito Flores, 43, of Santa Maria, was assisting in the baptism of the man's adult cousin.

"A big wave came and took Benito, I tried to take him out, he was heavy and then another big wave came," said Cervantes, pastor of the Jesus Christ Light of the Sky church in Santa Maria.

The pastor said that he and the man being baptized were also swept away by the waves, but managed to make it back to shore.

The incident took place around 10 a.m.  Sunday at the Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve in Guadalupe, the Santa Maria Times reports.

A Santa Barbara county search team and the U.S. Coast Guard searched for the victim in an area south of the beach in the direction of strong ocean currents, KCOY-TV reported.

Cervantes said about 25 people were attending the ceremony near a beach parking lot. He said the church performs such ceremonies two or three times a year, the Santa Maria Times reports.

(Doug Stanglin writes for USA Today)