Authorities Announce Naya Rivera Is ‘Presumed Dead’ And Shift Search To Recovery

by : Cameron Frew on : 10 Jul 2020 07:38
Naya Rivera ThumbnailNaya Rivera ThumbnailPA Images/20th Television

After two days missing, Glee star Naya Rivera is ‘presumed dead’ as authorities shift their search to a recovery operation on Lake Piru. 

As per the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, the 33-year-old originally went missing on Wednesday, July 8, after renting a boat at the Southern Californian lake with her four-year-old son Josey.


As of Thursday morning, the search has turned to a recovery mission, with investigators believing she ‘drowned in what appears to be a tragic accident’.

Naya Rivera SearchNaya Rivera SearchPA Images

Authorities were made aware of Rivera’s disappearance after a boater found Josey alone on the water, three hours after they were due to return the boat. According to the sheriff’s office, Rivera and her son had gone for a swim in the lake, but only Josey returned to the boat afterwards.

As per BBC News, Officer Chris Dyer explained to reporters: 


We’re presuming that an accident happened, we’re presuming that she drowned in the lake. There are no signs of foul play, no signs that anything went wrong, besides a tragic accident. The goal is still to bring Ms Rivera home to her family so they can have some closure.

The sheriff’s office has been forthcoming with details regarding the search operation, sharing constant updates via its Twitter feed. Around 100 personnel were involved yesterday, with specialised dive teams from Los Angeles County, San Luis Obispo County, and Tulare County, helicopters, boats and ATV vehicles all in use.

Tragically, there’s a chance divers won’t ever find Rivera’s body due to the treacherous conditions of the lake and low visibility.

Naya Rivera SearchNaya Rivera SearchPA Images

As reported by Hollywood Life, Sgt. Kevin Donoghue explained:

If the body is entangled in something beneath the water, it may never come back up. In a lake the visibility is not very good. So, if you’ve ever watched underwater video and you’ve seen divers in the ocean, typically the visibility in the ocean water is much better. So, in the lake, the visibility is terrible.

In this particular lake, in that area, there’s a lot of trees and plants and such that are under the water that can cause entanglements. Makes it unsafe for the divers and it makes a more complicated search.

In daylight, divers had ‘less than one foot of visibility in the water’, hindering the entire operation. The search is set to resume today. Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office has released the 911 call of the original missing person report, and CCTV footage showing Rivera and her son arriving at the lake.


You can watch the footage of Rivera and her son below: 

Her most recent social media post was a photo of her and Josey, captioned: ‘Just the two of us.’ Days earlier, she wrote on Instagram: ‘No matter the year, circumstance, or strifes everyday you’re alive is a blessing. Make the most of today and every day you are given. Tomorrow is not promised.’


Rivera was best known for playing Santana Lopez on Ryan Murphy’s hit show from 2009-2015, amassing swathes of critical praise throughout her tenure, including two ALMA Awards nominations for Favourite Female Music Artist and Favourite TV Actress – Leading Role in a Comedy.

She also released her own single in 2013, Sorry, featuring Big Sean, as well as appearing in TV shows Devious Maids and Step Up: High Water, and movies At The Devil’s Door and Mad Families.

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677. 

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Film and TV, Celebrity, Glee, Naya Rivera, Now, TV


Ventura County Sheriff's Office and 2 others
  1. Ventura County Sheriff's Office

    Lake Piru Missing Person search

  2. BBC News

    Naya Rivera: Glee star presumed dead after boat trip with son

  3. Hollywood Life

    Naya Rivera’s Body ‘May Never’ Be Found& May Be ‘Entangled’ Underwater If SheDrowned, Cop Says