A body reportedly seen in the water Monday morning turned out to be fishing buoys floating just a few miles from the site where a man disappeared after being swept into the surf during a baptism in Santa Barbara County, according to authorities.
Just before 10 a.m. on Sunday, three people were pulled into the ocean off Guadalupe Dunes Park near the conclusion of the baptismal ceremony, Capt. David Sadecki of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department stated in a news release.
Two of the people were able to get out of the water on their own and were uninjured, but a third person did not return and a search effort began, according to Sadecki.
Water rescue teams and two helicopter searches were unable to locate the person, Sadecki stated.
The man was in the water with two others when he was swept out to sea, Pastor Maurigro Cervantes of the Santa Maria church Jesus Christ Light of the Sky told the Santa Maria Times, which reported the man was 43.
There were about 25 people at the ceremony, one of several such baptisms the church performs each year, Cervates told the newspaper.
“A big wave came and took Benito,” Cervantes told Santa Barbara station KEYT. “I tried to take him, to pull him out, but he was heavy and then another big wave came and took him.”
On Monday, authorities investigated numerous reports that a body was seen in the water about 2 to 4 miles north of Guadalupe Dunes Park.
However, the object floating near the surf line was found to be fishing buoys that were mistaken for a body, Sadecki stated.
The Fire Department suspended its search for the man Monday morning, but U.S. Coast Guard personnel continued to search with a boat and a helicopter.
A California State Parks water rescue team was also on scene with personal water crafts, according to Sadecki.