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Local News

Reports of Body in Surf Off Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Park Prove Unfounded

Authorities say the potential discovery was in an area where a man was swept out to sea following a baptism Sunday

Authorities say numerous reports of a body found in the surf line about two miles north of Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Park Monday morning were a “false alarm,” and no body has been found, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

The potential discovery was in an area where a man was swept out to sea following a baptism Sunday morning.

A Vandenberg Fire Department water-rescue team assisted in the search, along with Cal Fire San Luis Obispo, the Guadalupe Fire Department and a county water rescue team, Capt. David Sadecki said.

A Santa Barbara County helicopter and a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter — carrying firefighter and rescue swimmers — searched in the area for an hour, finding nothing, Sadecki said.

Authorities believe witnesses mistook fishing buoys for a body, he said.

"The search by air has been suspended," Sadecki said. "The initial reports we got turned out to be a false alarm."

Possible discovery of a body comes a day after county fire responded to report of a water rescue at the park when three people were swept into the ocean at the conclusion of a baptism ceremony around 10 a.m., Sadecki said.

Authorities haven't released the name of the missing man, but he's been identified as Benito Flores, 43, a lifetime member of Santa Maria's Jesus Christ Light in the Sky church, which regularly performs baptisms in that area of beach, according to KEYT.

Two people were rescued and uninjured, but the third person was still unaccounted for when water rescue teams and several other agencies discontinued the search at 2:30 p.m., he said.

U.S. Coast Guard continued searching until midnight.

County fire suspended its search efforts late Monday morning, while Coast Guard and a California State Parks water rescue team with personal water crafts remained on scene.

Check back with Noozhawk for more details.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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