Naya Rivera Drowned in ‘Tragic Accident,’ Authorities Say

Naya Rivera Drowned

Getty Sergeant Kevin Donoghue of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office at a press conference at Lake Piru.

The search for missing Glee actress Naya Rivera has turned into a recovery mission, with investigators saying they believe Rivera drowned “in what appears to be a tragic accident.”

Sergeant Kevin Donoghue of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said in a press conference July 9 that Rivera’s body “may never come back up.”

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office posted an official update on July 9 regarding the search for Rivera at Lake Piru.

Captain Eric Buschow said that, as of July 9, the search had become a recovery mission.

“Naya Rivera rented a boat at the lake Wednesday afternoon and went for an excursion with her four-year-old son. The boat was found drifting in the northern portion of the lake with the child alone and asleep onboard. Rivera’s son told investigators that he and his mother had been swimming in the lake, and he got back in the boat, but Rivera did not,” the statement read.

On July 8, a search crew that included “50 sheriff’s personnel, along with a helicopter, boat crews, divers, and unmanned aerial vehicles” scoured Lake Piru for more than five hours, but Rivera could not be located. The search ended around 10 p.m. July 8, resuming the next day, but Buschow’s statement said poor visibility, “with divers experiencing less than one foot of visibility in the water in daylight,” made the recovery operation “a very slow process.”

Here’s what you need to know:


Ventura County Authorities Provided Several Updates on July 9

Officials give update on Naya Rivera search, "Glee" actress gone missing on Lake Piru | ABC7Actress Naya Rivera is missing and may have drowned, authorities say, after she went boating and swimming on Lake Piru with her young son on Wednesday. Full story: https://abc7.com/glee-actress-naya-rivera-missing-in-socal-lake/6308370/2020-07-09T17:27:33Z

The Ventura County Sheriff’s office provided several updates from the Lake Piru location on July 9. They said in one update that they were shifting to a search-and-recovery operation.

Authorities said it didn’t “change the efforts we are putting forth to locate her, but that changes the title, in a sense. We are presuming that an accident happened, and we are presuming that she drowned in the lake.”

Authorities clarified there were no signs of foul play or of anything that went wrong, besides a “tragic accident.”

Ventura County Sheriff's Office provides update on missing actress Naya RiveraThe Ventura County Sheriff's Office in California is holding a news conference on missing actress and former "Glee" star Naya Rivera. ►Subscribe: https://on.wtsp.com/youtube ►Website: https://www.wtsp.com/ ►Facebook: https://facebook.com/10TampaBay ►Twitter: https://twitter.com/10TampaBay2020-07-09T22:17:02Z
Donoghue outlined the efforts that had been undertaken in the search for Rivera. Those involved included the sheriff’s office, U.S. Coast Guard and multiple dive teams, in a land, air and sea search using technology including sonar to locate Rivera.

“We’re searching the northern half of the lake, which is a good-sized area, hoping to find any clues and evidence of her disappearance,” Donoghue said.

“We’ve had no indication after talking to her son that Ms. Rivera made it to shore, so the focus of our search efforts are in the water at this time,” he said.

He confirmed there was one life jacket on board, and one life jacket on the four-year-old boy.

He said he didn’t know if Rivera’s son had seen her go under and not come back up. “In the lake, visibility is not good … in this particular lake, there’s a lot of trees and plants … under the water that can cause entanglements, makes it unsafe for the divers, and makes a more complicated search.”

Donoghue said investigators had been able to determine through dock video footage that Rivera and her son had been the only two people “on the boat when the boat left the dock.”

The search area where the boat was found was about 30 feet deep, he said, but visibility was only 15 feet. There were 100 personnel involved in the search, a large number of them divers.

Manpower also included helicopter crew chiefs, pilots, and the people organizing search efforts at the command post.

Investigators had been in contact with Rivera’s family, Donoghue said.


Donoghue Said Rivera’s Body ‘May Never Come Back Up’

Donoghue stated that if Rivera’s body was entangled in something beneath the water, “it may never come back up.”

Swimming was permitted in the lake, he said, and there were no strong undercurrents. He said the hypothermic elements of being in cold water could affect some people, “but I don’t know if that’s the case here.”

“We’ve received permission to go ahead and release the 911 audio, release the CCTV footage from the dock, and we are going to try and release some additional video of what it’s like searching in the water.”

Donoghue said people would be kept at the area through the night, but air and water operations would be suspended at dark, with the search resuming at daybreak.

One of the things that complicated the search was “we have to go with where the boat was found initially, and work our way outward from there. When you’re talking about underwater in visibility that’s really limited, it’s a slow going search process.

“It’s too early to say what happened here, we’re still investigating … but it’s not uncommon that we have boating accidents, and people lose their lives. … We have had drownings here, for various circumstances,” Donoghue said.

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