Naya Rivera Presumed Dead as Authorities Shift Search to "Recovery Operation"

Authorities have shifted the search for Naya Rivera to a recovery operation. Get the latest details on the Glee star's disappearance.

By McKenna Aiello, Jess Cohen Jul 09, 2020 6:22 PMTags

The search for Naya Rivera is still underway, one day after the Glee actress went missing.

It's been about 24 hours since the star's 4-year-old son Josey was found alone on a rented pontoon boat in the middle of California's Lake Piru. Authorities began a rescue mission for Rivera on Wednesday, July 8, but suspended the search at nightfall. The search resumed at daybreak on Thursday, July 9, however, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department now tells NBC that this is a "recovery operation."

"Upwards of 100 law enforcement and emergency personnel—including several dive teams from Sheriff's Departments around the region—are searching the depths of Lake Piru for the body of Naya Rivera who is missing with all indications she drowned in Lake Piru," the department said Thursday. "The number of on-scene personnel is about double the number of people who were searching yesterday after Rivera's son was found alone on a boat on the lake, which is about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles."

During a press conference, Ventura County Sheriff Deputy Chris Dyer confirmed that there are "no signs of foul play" and "no signs of anything that went wrong besides a tragic accident. 

"The goal is still to bring Ms. Rivera home to her family so that they can have closure," he stated. 

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Authorities also pointed out Thursday that Lake Piru is not a natural lake, but rather a man-made reservoir. "It is deep," the department stated, "Up to 130 [feet] in spots and loaded with debris on the bottom."


"There are challenges and safety issues at the sight," the sheriff's department explained. "Despite complaints that authorities suspended search efforts overnight, visibility for divers in the lake, during the day, is exceedingly limited somewhere between five and nine [feet]. You can't see at night."

As for a timeline of events leading up to Rivera's disappearance, authorities said that an employee of the boat rental facility went looking for the boat after it became overdue for return at 4 p.m. Rivera's boat was located on the north end of the lake and the employee discovered her son on it. Rivera, however, "was nowhere to be found," Dyer said. 

Search efforts began immediately and continued through 10 p.m., when authorities state conditions became "dangerous." 

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Dyer also said during the press conference that Rivera had visited Lake Piru on previous occasions and was familiar with the area. Additionally, he said it's not uncommon for people to swim in the lake. 

"I can't stress enough that this seems like a tragic accident," he said. "You come out here for a great day and something bad happens."

Stars have been sending out well wishes and prayers for Rivera, including many of her former Glee castmates. Heather Morris took to her Instagram Stories to write, "We need all the prayers we can get to bring our Naya back home to us. We need your love and light."

Chord Overstreet also took to social media to tell fans, "love and hug on the people you can, while you can. I love you. Everyone please send out your prayers."