A man is reported missing after he was swept away by the tide during a baptism at the Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve in California on Sunday morning.
The man, 43, is among three people who were swept by the sea during a baptism ceremony performed by the Jesus Christ Light of the Sky church in Santa Maria, the church's pastor, Mauro Cervantes, told the Santa Maria Times. Only two were able to swim back to shore.
Cervantes told KCOY-TV the missing man is his cousin, Benito Flores. At around 10 a.m., Cervantes and Flores were baptizing a man in his 20s when a huge wave knocked Flores and the other man down.
"A big wave came and took Benito, I tried to take him out, he was heavy and then another big wave came," Cervantes told KCOY-TV.
The second wave took Flores, from Santa Maria, away.
"There were three people initially, two were able to self-rescue and the one, is the one that's unaccounted for," Santa Barbara County Battalion Chief Diondray Wiley told KCOY-TV.
Cervantes told the Santa Maria Times there were around 25 people who attended the baptism. The church performs around two to three baptisms by the sea every year, Cervantes said.
According to the preserve's website, the 550-feet high sand dunes are the tallest on the West Coast. There is also a caution on the website about the tide, which can be "very dangerous."
Search teams are focusing on an area south of where Flores reportedly disappeared to account for ocean currents, Wiley told the Santa Maria Times.
"We gridded from Oso Flaco to Guadalupe beach and further south. The coast guard followed to the current to do our searches," Wiley told KCOY-TV.
Flores is still missing as of Monday morning.