A pastor died after being bitten by a crocodile during a mass baptism in Lake Abaya in Ethiopia. Witnesses said the crocodile leaped from the water and bit Rev. Docho Eshete on his legs, hands, and back -- according to USA TODAY

The 45-year-old pastor was in the process of baptizing 80 people last Sunday morning. He had finished baptizing one person and was about to baptize the second one when the crocodile literally jumped up out of the water and grabbed Rev. Eshete as the people looked on in horror. The congregation, fishermen and local residents rushed to keep the crocodile from dragging the clergyman away.

The reptile was quick, and by the time the people reached the pastor he was dead, and the crocodile escaped.

Other attacks

The preacher and those being baptized knew the lake was infested with crocodiles. Attacks are common in Africa and especially in that particular lake that is 37 miles long. Many women have been attacked while washing clothes in the water.

Rev. Eshete was bitten and died a month after a crocodile ripped off a woman's arm just five days before her wedding. However, that did not keep the 25-year-old woman from getting married in the hospital.

Water baptism

In Africa, it is not unusual for a large number of people to be immersed in water one by one during the same ceremony. There was no word about what will happen with the other candidates who were ready to be baptized before the attack.

CrocBite, a database from the Charles Darwin University, reports that crocodiles kill about 1,000 people every year.

Even though it is extremely dangerous in crocodile-infested waters, some people still want to take a chance that they will not get bitten. They want to be fully or partially immersed in the water like Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist, according to Matthew 3:13-17.

Because of people's strong religious beliefs, they may still continue to use the crocodile-infested lake where their pastor was killed. However, there are other options.

Other options

In the United States, some churches use a baptismal pool located in the church where there is no danger. The pool is a large structure built in a designated place. When there is a baptism, the pool is filled with water. After the baptism is over, the water is drained and the pool remains empty until the next ceremony. Since baptisms are held regularly, it is unusual to baptize 80 people at one time during the same ceremony. On many occasions, fewer than 10 people are baptized together.