The U.S. Coast Guard and local county rescue teams have called off the search 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.
Pastor Maurigro Cervantes tells KCOY-TV that the victim, identified as Benito Flores, 43, of Santa Maria, was his cousin, who was assisting in the baptism of an adult male.
"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 Santa Maria church Jesus Christ Light of the Sky.
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. PT 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 reports.
Fire Capt. David Sadecki said Monday that it would be difficult for anyone to survive more than 30 minutes in the cold water.
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.
Contributing: Associated Press