‘Glee’ actress Naya Rivera presumed dead after boat incident with son
The Ventura County Sheriff's office said the search and rescue for the 33-year-old has shifted to a recovery operation
Actress Naya Rivera has been presumed dead by California authorities after disappearing while out on a boat with her 4-year-old son who was found alone on the craft Wednesday afternoon.
“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, according to CNN.
Search and rescue efforts for the 33-year-old Glee star have now shifted to a recovery operation. “The goal is still to bring Miss Rivera home to her family,” Dyer said.
Rivera was not on the pontoon boat she apparently rented when authorities discovered her son, Josey, sleeping adrift the boat in Lake Piru in Ventura County just before 5 p.m. PT on Wednesday. The young boy was reportedly wearing a life jacket. Another adult life jacket was also found on the boat.
Law enforcement said Josey told authorities that he and his mother were swimming in the water but Rivera never came back into the pontoon boat, CBS LA reported. A team of divers stopped searching due to nightfall after hours of no recovery on Wednesday but continued their search Thursday morning.
“Multiple teams of professional search & rescue personnel are actively searching Lake Piru for clues to the location of Naya Rivera,” the Ventura County Sheriff’s office tweeted Thursday.
“With over 80 people involved in the search right now, we are using helicopters, boats, ATV vehicles, and ground personnel to try and locate her.”
Authorities reportedly found Rivera’s Black SUV parked near the boat rental with her purse inside.
Just a day before her disappearance, Rivera had shared a picture of her kissing her young son with the caption: “Just the two of us.”
It was her last post to social media.
Rivera quickly became a trending topic late Wednesday on the west coast as many offered their prayers for her safety. Others on Twitter were quick to admonish those who began posting “RIP” messages to their timelines without any confirmation on the state of her welfare.
“Praying for Naya Rivera. I hope she’s ok,” tweeted fellow Hollywood actress Tika Sumpter.
“Prayers up for the lovely Naya Rivera,” tweeted actress Jackée Harry, who shared a throwback TV clip of her and a young Rivera. “We starred alongside one another in her first very television series, The Royal Family, and I’ve watched her career blossom ever since. Please God, don’t cut this life short.”
Rivera shares custody of her son with actor Ryan Dorsey, whom she divorced in 2018.
The former child actress is best known for her role as the high school cheerleader Santana Lopez in the Fox network’s musical TV drama Glee. Rivera starred on the show for six seasons from 2009-2015.
The cast of Glee has seen its share of tragedy. Actor Cory Monteith died at 31 of a drug overdose in 2013, and Mark Salling died in an apparent suicide in 2018 after pleading guilty to federal charges of being in possession of child pornography.
This story is still developing.