Local authorities conducted a search by air and water Wednesday afternoon after Glee actress Naya Rivera was reported missing on Southern California's Lake Piru. Video shared by The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department showed a helicopter landing in a parking lot at the lake, which is located in Ventura County approximately 56 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
A search for Rivera was launched Wednesday afternoon after authorities were alerted to a possible missing person. The actress had rented a boat with her son. Approximately three hours after they left the dock, another boater discovered the drifting boat with Rivera's 4-year-old son asleep onboard. Josey was unharmed and informed authorities that he and his mother had gone swimming, though Rivera had never returned to the boat. According to CNN, an adult life vest was discovered on the boat.
Authorities were alerted and a search was promptly undertaken. The Ventura County Sheriff's Department searched by both air and water, enlisting the assistance of a dive team, before suspending the search at dark. They were scheduled to resume the search Thursday morning "at first light."
Fans, who were understandably shocked by the news of Rivera’s disappearance, immediately called for the sheriff's department to continue looking throughout the night. Along with the hashtag "Pray for Naya," the phrase "Keep Searching" trended on Twitter as fans called upon authorities to not give up.
The search for Naya Rivera will continue this morning at Lake Piru. The lake will be closed to the public while search operations continue. Dive teams from throughout the region will be assisting us through mutual aid. @VCAirUnit @Cal_OES @fillmoresheriff pic.twitter.com/q6LsHd8xaT— Ventura Co. Sheriff (@VENTURASHERIFF) July 9, 2020
In a news conference Wednesday evening, 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," according to the Associated Press. He said that "this may well be a case of drowning."
Speaking with CBS Los Angeles, Buschow said that "there's a lot of challenges in a reservoir this size, at times with visibility" and 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." NBCLA's Robert Kovacik reported that Rivera is "presumed dead, per the Ventura County Sheriff," though the sheriff's department has not yet made an official statement on their social media accounts announcing such.
Rivera portrayed Santana Lopez on the Fox show for six years starting in 2009 and appeared in nearly every episode of the musical dramedy. Her other credits include The Bernie Mac Show, Family Matters, The Royal Family, and Step Up: High Water. She and Dorsey were previously married, though their divorce was finalized in 2018. They are believed to share joint custody of Josey, whom officials were working to reunite him with family members.