Rivera went missing during a trip to Lake Piru in Ventura County, California, with her son Josey, 4, who was found sleeping on the rented pontoon boat.
A rescue mission for actress Naya Rivera has turned into a recovery mission after she went missing from a rented boat on a Southern California lake on Wednesday. Rivera, who is known for her role as Santana Lopez on the hit Fox series Glee, has tragically been presumed dead according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Office. The 33-year-old was on a trip to Lake Piru in Ventura County, California, with her 4-year-old son Josey Dorsey when she disappeared. The two had rented a pontoon boat and were swimming in the water. When their boat did not return following the completion of the three-hour rental arrangement, staffers at the lake set out to look for them only to find the boat at the north side of the water body with only Rivera's son on board.
Guys guys they are still searching. It’s just not a rescue mission anymore it’s a recover mission since she’s has been presumed dead. I hope they find her so her family will have closure. Her poor son. It’s so sad. 😢— Emily 🤎 (@EmmiiDianne) July 9, 2020
Ventura County Sheriff's Office Captain Eric Buschow revealed that River's son told investigators that he and his mom had been swimming in the lake before he got back in the boat and his mother did not. The boy had a life vest on and an adult life vest, which is believed to be Rivera's, was found on the boat along with her identification. The child is currently under the care of family, assured Buschow. At about 12 p.m. EDT Thursday, a search and recovery operation was launched with about 100 people looking for her body. At around 10 p.m., the search was halted for the night as Rivera was nowhere to be found. In a statement released on Thursday by the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, investigators said they believe that Rivera drowned in a tragic accident.
Sad news. Her little child needs our prayers. Sad thing to witness. 💔🙏 Enjoy Every day as tomorrow is never guaranteed.— Francesca (@Frances30461468) July 9, 2020
Security footage released by the police shows the actress parking at the Lake Piru boat launch alongside her son before boarding the rented pontoon. They also released the initial intimation that signaled Rivera's disappearance. "We found a little girl in the boat by herself and her mom is nowhere to be found," a female caller was heard saying in a calm voice, referring to Rivera’s 4-year-old son Josey. "My husband was one of the people first there and I'm going to find more information, but he told me to call it in." According to USA Today, the Sheriff's office found no evidence of any foul play or suicide. They also confirmed that this wasn't the the first time Rivera had been out in the lake.
A physical search for Rivera, which began on Wednesday, had be suspended for security reasons but it was resumed on Thursday morning, said a spokesman for the agency Deputy Chris Dyer. Nearly 50 sheriff’s personnel, boat crews, unmanned aerial vehicles, divers, and a helicopter searched the lake for five hours by Wednesday evening. By next morning four dive boats were searching the northern shoreline and two helicopters flew above an area of Lake Piru called Juan Fernandez Spring. The murky water didn't allow divers to look past one foot in daylight.
These difficult conditions slowed down the recovery operation per Buschow, who said that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is helping in the search with more divers and sonar equipment. "In the lake, the visibility is terrible," said Sheriff’s Sergeant Kevin Donoghue. The water was about 30 feet (9 meters) deep in the location where the boat was found. The murky water which had dense vegetation made it tough for divers to see. "If the body is entangled on something beneath the water, it may never come back up," said Donoghue. Apparently, drownings take place at the lake from time to time, revealed Dyer. "It's not so often because the lake has been low so that has affected attendance. When the lake is higher and it's hotter at the lake, drownings do happen," he said according to the outlet.
Many co-stars of the actress responded to the news with prayers for her safe return. We need all the prayers we can get to bring our Naya back home to us. We need your love and light, wrote Heather Morris, who played Brittany Pierce on Glee, on her Instagram story. Iqbal Theba, aka Principal Figgins, took to Twitter and shared a report of Rivera's disappearance. Oh God... mercy... please... he wrote. Singer Demi Lovato shared: Please pray for @nayarivera to be found safe and sound.