Actress Naya Rivera is assumed to be dead after her 4-year-old son was found alone on a pontoon boat on a lake near Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon. NBCLA's Robert Kovacik reported that Rivera is "presumed dead, per the Ventura County Sheriff." The sheriff's office confirmed that the missing person was identified as the 33-year-old Glee star. A search mission was carried out Wednesday afternoon with helicopters, drones and dive teams, but was suspended at dark; it will resume at first light on Thursday.
Rivera and her 4-year-old son, Josey, rented a pontoon on Lake Piru around 1 p.m. Wednesday, the sheriff's department said. Around 4 p.m., another boater discovered the craft in question with Josey alone on it, apparently asleep. The child told authorities that he and his mother were swimming, but she did not get back on the boat. CNN reports that Rivera's life jacket was found on the vessel. Josey is unharmed and officials were working to reunite him with family members. "This is considered to be a horrible accident," the sheriff's department told NBCLA.
#BREAKING: @Actress @NayaRivera is presumed dead, per @VENTURASHERIFF. The actress/singer and her four year old son were on a rented pontoon boat on #LakePiru and were swimming. The son got back on the boat, his mom did not. He was wearing a life-vest, she was not. pic.twitter.com/sSZ3UmeT2t— Robert Kovacik (@RobertNBCLA) July 9, 2020
"There's a lot of challenges in a reservoir this size, at times with visibility," Capt. Eric Buschow, of the sheriff's department, told CBS Los Angeles. "I don't have details yet as to the depth of the area where the boat was found or what conditions they're encountering out there." Lake Piru is located in Ventura County, California, in the Los Padres National Forest, over 50 miles north of Los Angeles.
The vehicle that Rivera and her son traveled to Lake Piru in was removed from the scene, though the boat remained in the water. Per Los Angeles' Fox affiliate, Rivera's car, a black G-Wagon was parked in the boat rental company's parking lot. The outlet also reported that Rivera's purse was in the car.
Rivera's social media accounts were quiet on Wednesday. She posted her latest Instagram upload on Tuesday, featuring a photo of Josey and herself. The caption reads, "just the two of us." She also shared the image on her Twitter account.
just the two of us pic.twitter.com/wCunAlGJ1B— Naya Rivera (@NayaRivera) July 7, 2020
Zack Teperman, who called himself Rivera's former publicist, posted on social media that 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 played Santana Lopez on the Fox show for six years starting in 2009 and appeared in nearly every episode of the musical dramedy. She is also known for playing Donna on The Bernie Mac Show, Gwendolyn on Family Matters, Hillary Winston on The Royal Family and Collette Jones on Step Up: High Water. She also was in the comedy film The Master of Disguise.
Rivera was previously married to actor Ryan Dorsey. River and Dorsey, who is Josey's father, divorced in June 2018 and are believed to share joint custody of the young child.