Naya Rivera: Search for 'Glee' Star Shifts From Rescue to Recovery as She's Presumed Dead

Actress Naya Rivera is presumed dead after disappearing at Lake Piru in Southern California Wednesday. Ventura County Sheriff's Office made the announcement on Thursday, which turns the search attempt into a recovery mission.

"We're presuming that an accident happened and we're presuming she drowned in the lake," Ventura County Sheriff Deputy Chris Dyer said at a news conference Thursday, via CNN. Given that the mission is now one of recovery, "the goal is still to bring Miss Rivera home to her family so they can have some closure," he added. Rivera's son, 4-year-old Josey Rivera, was found asleep and in good health on the boat, but Dyer explained that his mother was nowhere to be found. Search efforts kicked off immediately, which continued until about 10 p.m. Wednesday, local time.

Rivera's son told investigators the two had gone swimming, and while he made it back to the boat, it appears that she didn't. Despite Rivera being presumed dead, investigators aren't currently suspecting any foul play and believe this is an accident, likely a drowning. In a news conference on Wednesday, Captain Eric Buschow said that authorities "are going on the belief that she did go in the water and we have not been able to locate her," and that "this may well be a case of drowning." Buschow also said that "there's a lot of challenges in a reservoir this size, at times with visibility" but that he does not "have details yet as to the depth of the area where the boat was found or what conditions they're encountering out there."

Rivera played Santana Lopez on the Fox musical drama Glee for six years beginning in 2009, appearing in almost every episode of the beloved series. She later had roles in the CBS sitcom The Royal Family and most recently in the YouTube Red series Step Up: High Water. Several fans along with a number of Rivera's former co-stars have spoken out on social media offering their well-wishes.


"We need all the prayers we can get to bring our Naya back home to us," fellow Glee alum Heather Morris wrote on her Instagram Story Wednesday after the news broke, adding "we need your love and light." Popstar Demi Lovato also posted about the incident to her followers, asking them to "please pray for [Naya Rivera] to be found safe and sound."