Beware Beach Baptisms: the Lord Giveth and He Taketh Away

Short of a miracle, Benito Flores is lost at sea and must be presumed dead. He gave his life to help other people get all wet baptized.

A California man remains missing a day after he was swept out to sea during an ocean baptism.

Benito Flores, 43, was among several people helping his cousin, Pastor Maurigro Cervantes, baptize a man near the Guadalupe Dunes Preserve north of Santa Barbara.

Two others were swept out by a huge wave but were able to swim to shore.

Hours of rescue attempts followed. Among those looking for Flores were Santa Barbara County fire crews and the local water rescue team. Personnel of Guadalupe, Vandenberg, and Santa Maria fire departments as well as the Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue team also participated, as did helicopter crews from the county Air Support Unit and the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard also sent a vessel. But it appeared to be too late:

Santa Barbara Fire Captain David Sadecki said it would be difficult for anyone to survive more than 30 minutes in the cold water.

Flores was swept out to sea at the same location that Cecil B. DeMille and his crew used in 1923 to film The Ten Commandments. Since Sunday’s scene wasn’t make-believe, no one was available to part the raging waters.

(Image by Shutterstock)

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder of Moral Compass, a now dormant site that poked fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards. He joined Friendly Atheist in 2013.