After several hours of searching, authorities have shifted from search-and-rescue to a recovery operation
Tragically, the search for former Glee actor Naya Rivera has switched gears from a search-and-rescue operation to a recovery mission to find her body, according to authorities. Rivera was reported missing on Wednesday after she failed to return the boat she rented on Lake Piru, 50 miles north of Los Angeles. Her four-year-old son Josey was asleep on the boat in his life jacket when he was found, but Rivera was missing.
According to investigators, Josey said they had been swimming, but Rivera did not get back in the boat with him. It’s utterly heartbreaking to imagine what that poor boy must be enduring right now. Rivera had rented a pontoon boat for the two of them to have a fun day of boating and swimming, and what should have been a sweet, summer day ended in tragedy.
— Ventura Co. Sheriff (@VENTURASHERIFF) July 9, 2020
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department said they couldn’t find the 33-year-old Rivera after a search involving 50 personnel, a helicopter, boat crews, divers, and drones on Wednesday night. On Thursday, the search expanded to 100 personnel, but divers were unable to continue due to poor visibility. Rivera has officially been presumed drowned.
“The search for a missing Los Angeles actress at Lake Piru has turned into a recovery mission as of Thursday morning,” a report from the Ventura County Sheriff’s office says. “Naya Rivera rented a boat at the lake Wednesday afternoon and went for an excursion with her four-year-old son. The boat was found drifting in the northern portion of the lake with the child alone and asleep onboard. Rivera’s son told investigators that he and his mother had been swimming in the lake, and he got back in the boat, but Rivera did not.”
Police have released a surveillance video that shows Rivera arriving to the boat launch with her son.
This is the security camera footage from the Lake Piru boat launch when Naya Rivera and her son rented a pontoon boat on Lake Piru. https://t.co/osWoDTdwle
— Ventura Co. Sheriff (@VENTURASHERIFF) July 10, 2020
“Investigators believe Rivera drowned in what appears to be a tragic accident,” the report concluded.
Many former Glee co-stars and other celebrities who knew and worked with Naya have been sharing their heartache online, hoping for a miracle and sending loving thoughts to her son and family.
love and hug on the people you can, while you can. I love you. Everyone please send out your prayers.
— Chord Overstreet (@chordoverstreet) July 9, 2020
— iqbal theba (@iqbaltheba) July 9, 2020
— Harry Shum Jr (@HarryShumJr) July 9, 2020
Prayers up for the lovely Naya Rivera. 🙏🙏
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. pic.twitter.com/8fRDuuh3oK
— Jackée Harry (@JackeeHarry) July 9, 2020
Please pray for Naya and her son. I pray she is found okay. https://t.co/QJauOIapIT
— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) July 9, 2020
Heartbreakingly, Naya’s last Instagram post was a photo of herself and Josey, captioned “Just the two of us.”
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department will update the public as the recovery mission continues. Hopefully Rivera’s family will be able to find some measure of peace, comfort, and closure amid this awful tragedy.