Search for Glee actor Naya Rivera in California lake now a recovery mission, police say

More than 24 hours after Naya Rivera was last seen, over 80 people using helicopters, drones and all-terrain vehicles, including divers, were involved in the search to find her, which began Wednesday afternoon on Lake Piru, 90 kilometres from Los Angeles. Authorities said the search has now become a recovery mission.

Rivera's 4-year-old son was found alone on boat in lake 90 km from Los Angeles

Search continues for actress Naya Rivera, 33, in Southern California

2 years ago
Duration 2:16
Naya Rivera went missing during a boating trip with her son. The actress is best known for her role on ‘Glee.' She played Santana, a cheerleader, in the musical-comedy that aired from 2009 until 2015.

Authorities searching a Southern California lake Thursday for Glee star Naya Rivera after her four-year-old son was found alone on a rented boat said the search has now become a recovery mission. 

More than 24 hours after she was last seen, over 80 people using helicopters, drones, and all-terrain vehicles, including divers, were involved in the search for Rivera, which began Wednesday afternoon on Lake Piru, 90 kilometres northwest of Los Angeles in the Los Padres National Forest.

The Ventura County Sheriff's Office said the search has turned into a recovery mission.

Rivera rented a pontoon boat at about 1 p.m. local time on Wednesday, and planned to go swimming with the little boy in the area reserved for recreation, authorities said.

Another boater found her son on the north end of the lake asleep on the boat and wearing a life vest.

A boat covered in caution tape rented by Naya Rivera sits at a dock at Lake Piru, northwest of Los Angeles, on Thursday. (Chris Pizzello/The Associated Press)

"We're going on the belief that she did go in the water and we have not been able to locate her," Sheriff's Capt. Eric Buschow said at a news conference. "So this may well be a case of drowning."

Rivera's identification was found on the boat and her vehicle was found in a parking area, authorities said. The boy was safe and healthy and with family members.

There have been occasional drownings through the years in the popular recreation area of the lake, which is about an hour's drive from downtown L.A. It was shut down Thursday for the search.

Fire department helicopters hovered over the water on a sunny afternoon in the search's second day, and boats of several sizes could be seen skimming the water, the smaller ones searching up creeks and tributaries.

Rivera's four-year-old son is from a marriage with actor Ryan Dorsey. The couple finalized their divorce in June 2018 after nearly four years of marriage.

Rivera poses on the red carpet during the 2013 Much Music Video Awards in Toronto in June 2013. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

She called the boy, her only child, "my greatest success, and I will never do any better than him" in her 2016 memoir Sorry Not Sorry.

The most recent tweet on Rivera's account, from Tuesday, read "just the two of us" along with a photo of her and her son.

Rivera was engaged to rapper Big Sean in 2013, but their relationship ended a year later. The pair met on Twitter and collaborated musically, with the rapper appearing on Rivera's debut single Sorry. She married Dorsey a few months later.

Rivera played Santana Lopez, a singing cheerleader in the musical-comedy Glee that aired on Fox from 2009 until 2015. She appeared in 113 episodes of the series and dated co-star Mark Salling, who died by suicide in 2018 at age 35 after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.

Cory Monteith, one of the show's leads, died at 31 in 2013 from a toxic mix of alcohol and heroin.


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