Reports Monday morning of a body found north of Guadalupe Dunes Park proved false, and while a Coast Guard search continues for a man washed out to sea on Sunday, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department has suspended its search.
The Department released the following statement late Monday morning:
The Santa Barbara County Fire Department has suspended the search for the missing person at Guadalupe Dunes Park.
The object floating near the surf line was found to be fishing buoys that were mistaken for a body. The U.S. Coast Guard remains in the area with a helicopter and a boat to continue to search. California State Parks water rescue team is on scene with personal water crafts.
On Sunday at 9:59 a.m., the Santa Barbara County Fire Department responded to an ocean rescue located at Guadalupe Dunes Park. County Fire responded two engines and a battalion chief, and was assisted by Guadalupe Fire, Santa Maria Fire, Vandenberg AFB, U.S. Coast Guard, Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue, Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit, Santa Barbara County Sheriff and American Medical Response.
Three people were swept into the ocean at the conclusion of a baptismal ceremony. Two people self-rescued and sustained no injuries. The third person was unaccounted for.
A search effort began. The search included shore based, water rescue teams with personal water crafts, and 2 helicopter searches. The search continued until 2:30 pm at which time the USCG continued the search until midnight.
The incident started on Sunday during a baptism ceremony in the ocean. Pastor Maurigro Cervantes was in the water baptizing a man and being assisted by another.
A rogue wave swept out Santa Maria resident Benito Flores, 43, who was assisting Cervantes with the baptism. Flores is a cousin of Cervantes.
“A big wave came and took Benito. I tried to take him out, he was heavy and then another big wave came,” Cervantes said.
Family and friends were on the scene at Guadalupe Dunes Park on Monday morning to keep a vigil for their lost loved one.