Naya Rivera Presumed Drowned in California’s Lake Piru

The effort to find Naya Rivera has transitioned from a search and rescue mission to a recovery effort.

The 33-year-old half-Puerto Rican actress and former Glee star is presumed dead after disappearing from a rented boat at Lake Piru Wednesday afternoon, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.

Naya Rivera

Rivera had arrived at the lake around 1:00 pm Wednesday and rented a boat with son, Josey Hollis Dorsey, said Capt. Eric Buschow, a sheriff’s spokesman. 

On Thursday, sheriff’s officials said Rivera had been overdue to return her boat, and a staff member went in search of her. The staff member discovered the child aboard alone at about 4:00 pm

Authorities found Rivera’s car where she parked it on her arrival Wednesday. The child had been returned to the care of family, according to Buschow. 

“He is safe with family members,” Buschow said Wednesday.

Video showed Rivera arrived with her son and boarded the boat alone. When the boat was found it was not anchored.

Sheriff’s officials said Thursday interviews with the child gave them no reason to believe his mother was on shore.

Despite the help of about 100 volunteers and public safety personnel from the sheriff’s office, the U.S. Coast Guardand Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo and Tulare counties, Rivera’s body had not been found by Thursday afternoon.

Divers and search-and-rescue crews scoured the land and water of the remote lake in northeast Ventura County while helicopters assisted from the air. They were also using sonar to help with their search.

Expert divers of the lake were on hand for the search, but authorities said Thursday there were a lot of trees and vegetation under water making the search difficult and dangerous.

Sheriff’s officials also said there was no evidence of foul play or any indication of a suicide. They said they believe whatever happened was an accident of some sort. Authorities said Rivera had been to the lake in the past. Check This Out for information on accident and injury lawyers.

By Thursday evening, two German shepherds from the California Rescue Dog Association had been enlisted. They are trained to detect the gasses released by human cadavers, authorities said.

The dogs were expected to perform a methodical search along a grid of the lake to help divers locate the body. They were the latest addition to the team, which had taken a technical and methodical approach in the search for the actress.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Bill Hutton said the K-9s were following a GPS grid much like other rescuers. The search was expected to go until nightfall.

The GPS data would be analyzed overnight and a new strategy will be formed by daybreak tomorrow, Hutton said.

Rivera is best known for her role as Santana Lopez on Fox’s Glee, which ran from 2009 to 2015. She most recently on the YouTube Red series Step Up: High Water, which had recently been picked up by Starz.

In her personal life, Rivera was married to actor Ryan Dorsey from 2014 through 2018. Their son Josey was born in September 2015. 

Rivera published a memoir the following year titled “Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes and Growing Up.”