Actress Naya Rivera has been missing since Wednesday afternoon when she and 4-year-old son Josey took a boat out on Lake Piru in Los Padres National Forest to go swimming. The Glee star is now presumed dead, and the murky waters and plants have made it difficult for authorities to find her. Lake Piru has been the site of several other drownings and disappearances, inspiring residents to launch a petition calling for more visible warnings for visitors.
More than 21,000 people have signed a new petition created by Change.org user Erin Jordan. "Naya Rivera is not the first, nor the last to go missing at Lake Piru," Jordan wrote. "Lake Piru is a very deep lake with very bad whirlpools, people have been asking for years for the city to put up warning signs for swimmers." The petition notes that many Ventura County residents are aware of the dangers, but visitors and tourists are not. "Lake Piru needs signs," Jordan added. "We’re tired of waiting. We need justice for all those who got lost at Lake Piru. Put up the signs."
Today’s search at Lake Piru involves the use of sophisticated sonar equipment in the effort to locate Naya Rivera. We are being assisted by @TulareSheriff @LASDHQ and @USCGLosAngeles There will be a media update at 3 pm.— Ventura Co. Sheriff (@VENTURASHERIFF) July 10, 2020
The search for Rivera is focusing on the northern area of the lake, where the boat Rivera rented was found. Josey was in the boat asleep alone, wearing a life jacket. An adult life jacket was found in the boat as well. The water in that area is cold and the depth varies where the boat was found, reports CBS Los Angeles. There is also debris and plants and the visibility is poor.
"Under the water, it’s a lot by feel," Max O’Brien, a volunteer diver with Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue, explained to reporters. "There’s a lot of shrubbery and sticks that we have to break through, as we’re going through, so it’s kind of a braille search." According to Diver Robert Inglis, there are some trees at the bottom of the lake that are 15-feet tall.
On Friday, divers began using cadaver dogs and special sonar equipment. Ingles told CBS LA there is "zero visibility" where they are diving, so the sonar equipment is needed to pick things up. Ingles does not believe rip currents could be solely responsible for Lake Piru drownings but noted the Santa Felicia Dam does create dangerous currents. In windy conditions, the waves could become stronger, which is why people need to wear life jackets in the lake.