The search for a 43-year-old man who was swept out to sea during a baptism ceremony at the Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve over the weekend was suspended Monday morning, according to officials from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
Fire Capt. David Sadecki said Monday that it would be unlikely for anyone to survive more than 30 minutes in the cold ocean water.
The man, who has been identified in news reports as Benito Flores, was pulled out to sea while assisting his cousin, Pastor Mauro Cervantes, of the Santa Maria church Jesus Christ Light of the Sky, during a baptism ceremony on Sunday about 10 a.m.
Two others were also swept out into the pounding surf, but managed to return to shore on their own, authorities said.
Officials responded Monday morning to multiple reports of a body being having been spotted two miles north of the Guadalupe Dunes Park, but the items were later identified as fishing buoys.
Personnel from Guadalupe, Vandenberg and Santa Maria fire departments and the Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue team searched the area south of the spot where the man went missing Sunday, a couple of hundred yards north of the parking lot.
Helicopters from the county Air Support Unit and the Coast Guard along with a vessel sent from Morro Bay by the Coast Guard, aided in the search for Flores.