Naya Rivera Presumed to Have Drowned After 4-Year-Old Son Found Alone on Boat (UPDATE)

The 'Glee' and 'Step Up' star had rented the boat on Lake Piru hours earlier. Her son was found alone wearing a life vest, per Ventura County officials.


Image via Getty/David Livingston


UPDATED 7/9, 9:30 p.m. ET: Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Kevin Donoghue held a press conference Thursday where he provided an update on the search effort for Rivera. 

Donoghue said they recovered video evidence from the dock showing Rivera and her child were the only two people who got aboard the boat. They have deployed about 100 personnel to focus their search in the lake after speaking with her son, who led them to believe that she never made it out of the water. 

"There's a lot of trees and plants and such that are under the water that can cause entanglement," Donoghue said. "Makes it unsafe for divers and a complicated search." Donoghue suggested that these same obstructions could result in the grim possibility that they never find her body.

"If the body is entangled in something underneath the water, it may never come up," he added.

Ventura County Sheriff's Office also released the 911 call after Rivera's 4-year-old son, Josey, was found asleep in the boat alone with his life jacket on. "We found a little girl in the boat by herself and the mom is nowhere to be found," the caller said, misgendering Josey. 

UPDATED 7/9, 6:04 p.m. ET: Ventura County Sheriff's Office has released a statement saying that "investigators believe Rivera drowned in what appears to be a tragic accident. "

UPDATED 7/9, 2:45 p.m. ET: Authorities have stated Naya Rivera is presumed dead, though the Lake Piru search continues. TMZ notes she “went missing in water with only 5 to 9 inches of visibility, and authorities say the lake is filled with trees and debris on the bottom,” complicating the mission.

“Multiple teams of professional search & rescue personnel are actively searching Lake Piru for clues to the location of Naya Rivera," the Ventura County Sherriff's Office tweeted on 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. We have mutual aid for specialized dive teams en route from Los Angeles County, San Luis Obispo County, and Tulare County. We will keep you posted with any updates as we learn them. Our hearts and prayers go out the all of the family and friends of the Rivera family."

The department said the "number of on-scene personnel is about double the number of people who were searching yesterday.”

See original story below.

Naya Rivera is missing after swimming in Lake Piru with her four-year-old son.

According to a report from a regional NBC News outlet, Rivera's son was discovered alone on a boat on the Ventura County-area reservoir on Wednesday afternoon. Responding officers found the child asleep on a boat that, just three hours earlier, had been rented by Rivera. Authorities were able to determine that the 33-year-old Glee and Step Up star and her four-year-old son had gone swimming in the lake. Rivera, however, did not return to the boat.

A rep from the Ventura County Sheriff's Department described the incident as "a horrible accident," adding that an adult life vest was also discovered on the boat. Her son, meanwhile, is reported as having been wearing a life vest when he was discovered by authorities. Other items found on the boat included Rivera’s purse and wallet, as well as food.

Per the report, the search effort had been suspended on Wednesday night but was set to resume on Thursday. Fellow Glee stars including Harry Shum Jr. and Heather Morris have since called on fans to keep Rivera and her family in their thoughts during this traumatic time.

Latest in Pop Culture