Glee actress Naya Rivera is presumed dead after disappearing at a lake in Southern California, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.
“We’re presuming that an accident happened and we’re presuming she drowned in the lake,” Deputy Chris Dyer said at a news conference Thursday.
Search and rescue efforts for the actress have now shifted to a recovery operation, Dyer said.
“The goal is still to bring Miss Rivera home to her family,” he said.
Rivera, 33, vanished from Lake Piru on Wednesday evening. She went to the lake that afternoon and rented a pontoon boat with her 4-year-old son, according to authorities.
Dyer said Thursday that the boat was overdue for return around 4 p.m. local time. A rental employee found the boat on the north end of Lake Piru.
Rivera’s son was on the boat, but she was nowhere to be found, Dyer said. One life jacket was found on the boat and the boy was wearing another. Investigators found Rivera’s purse and her identification, but no other clues on the boat.
Search efforts began immediately and continued until about 10 p.m. Wednesday. The search resumed Thursday morning and will continue until sunset and resume at daybreak if necessary, the sheriff’s office said.
Video from the dock shows Rivera and her son as the only two people getting on the boat, Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Kevin Donoghue said at a separate news conference.
Detectives have spoken to Rivera’s son and as a result of that conversation do not believe Rivera made it to shore, he said.
The boat was not anchored, and was not near the shore when found, the sheriff’s office said. The area in which it was found is approximately 30 feet deep.
The lake has very low visibility with numerous plants and trees in the search area, making it unsafe for divers and a more complicated search, according to Donoghue.
“If the body is entangled in something beneath the water, it may never come back up,” Donoghue said.
Another spokesman for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, Capt. Eric Buschow, previously said that the child and his mother went swimming and that she did not get back on the boat.
The child is healthy and with family, Dyer said Thursday morning. CNN has reached out to Rivera’s representatives for more details.
Rivera’s son is “doing as well as can be expected,”, according to Donoghue. “Our hearts and our prayers and thoughts go out to the Rivera family. This is a terrible tragedy for all of them and we hope to bring closure for that family,” he said.
The lake has been closed during the operation, which involves more than 100 people, Donoghue said.
Specialized dive teams from the nearby counties of Tulare, San Luis Obispo, and Los Angeles are also searching the lake. Others are using helicopters, boats and personal watercraft to look for clues.
Searchers are using sonar and other technology to assist in the recovery. For now, the search is focused on the north end of the lake.
“We don’t think it would have traveled the whole distance of the lake,” Donoghue said, explaining that they are looking where the boat was initially found and working their way outward from there.
“I think it’s too early to say what happened here. We’re still investigating and just still trying to find out what happened,” he said, noting that Rivera had been to this lake before.
Rivera played Santana Lopez on the Fox show for six years from 2009, and appeared in nearly every episode of the musical-comedy-drama. She was also on the CBS sitcom “The Royal Family” and in the comedy film “The Master of Disguise.”
Fellow celebrities, including her “Glee” co-star Harry Shum Jr., shared their concern on social media.
Actress Jackée Harry tweeted a scene she shared with Rivera on “The Royal Family,” which was Rivera’s first acting job at the age of 4.
“Prayers up for the lovely Naya Rivera,” Harry tweeted. “We starred alongside one another in her first very television series, The Royal Family, and I’ve watched her career blossom ever since. Please God, don’t cut this life short.”
Zack Teperman, who described himself as Rivera’s former publicist, said he was shocked by the news of her disappearance.
“I still can’t believe what I’m hearing and hoping it isn’t true,” he posted on social media. “I’m just sad. Naya Rivera was one of the first people I had the honor of working with back in 2009 when I got into public relations and moved to Hollywood. One of the first people to allow me to give her advice and guide her through those crazy Glee days.”
Rivera was previously married to actor Ryan Dorsey.
Ventura County’s Sheriff Department on Sunday provided an update on their recovery efforts following the Wednesday disappearance of actress Naya Rivera.
The authorities confirmed that the search at Lake Piru includes buildings in the surrounding and said that the search will continue on a day-to-day basis going forward. Sonar scans of the lake are expected to be completed by end of day Sunday.
The Sheriff’s department also advised against private search parties, noting the hot weather and treacherous terrain around the lake, which remains closed.
In today’s search for Naya Rivera, cabins and outbuildings in the surrounding area will be checked once again, as well as the shoreline. This has been part of the ongoing search effort since her disappearance on Wednesday afternoon. Boat crews continue to scan the lake.
— Ventura Co. Sheriff (@VENTURASHERIFF) July 12, 2020
Update on Sunday: A Ventura County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson gave an update on Friday about the efforts to find Glee actress Naya Rivera. Rivera has been missing since Wednesday when she disappeared while swimming at Lake Piru north of Los Angeles. The boat she rented was found later in the day with her four-year-old son asleep on board.
There were fewer people searching for Rivera on Friday, down to 40 from 100 the day before. The reasons for the reduction, said the spokesperson, were the dangers of low visibility and what he yesterday described as “trees and plants and such that are under the water that can cause entanglements.” Shallow in parts, at its lowest point underwater, the lake is over 1,000 feet deep.
As a result, rescuers were trying to be both safer and more effective, using technology and special dogs to narrow their search on Friday. “We’re not putting divers in the water at the same rate,” said the spokesperson. “We’re using sonar to identify things and then sending divers down to investigate. With the technology we can search larger areas more efficiently.”
“Last night they had a couple images that showed up that they thought might be promising,” said the Sheriff’s spokesperson. He indicated that, after the search resumed at 6 a.m. Friday morning, a robotic submarine was sent down to those spots. “Unfortunately, they did not locate Naya Rivera,” he said.
The search team was also taking dogs out on boats to see if they could help where sonar could not. Boats combed the lake with the animals positioned at the rear, apparently because dogs can detect scents from the bottom of lakes that are stirred up by the bubbles a boat propeller produces.
The search will continue on the north side and east sides of lake for the remainder of Friday, predominantly in an area called “The Narrows” where the boat Rivera rented was found.
A search and rescue operation has turned into a recovery effort for Glee’s Naya Rivera. The actress has been missing since Wednesday when she disappeared while swimming at Lake Piru north of Los Angeles.
“We’re presuming that an accident happened and we’re presuming she drowned in the lake,” Deputy Chris Dyer said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. “The goal is still to bring Miss Rivera home to her family,” he said.
The Ventura County Sheriffs Department also released the security camera footage from the Lake Piru boat launch. Possibly the last footage of Rivera alive, it shows the actress and and her son as they arrive and rent a pontoon boat.