Naya Rivera: Glee Actress Feared Dead After 4-Year-Old Son Found on Boat on California Lake

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Actress Naya Rivera is missing and presumed dead after her four-year-old son was found alone in a boat in California on Wednesday afternoon. 

The Ventura Sheriff's Department said that they kicked off a search for a drowning victim on Lake Piru at around 1pm. 

The former Glee star, 33, reportedly arrived at the lake and rented a boat, before taking her son aboard. 

Naya Rivera Attends Event

Three hours later, at around 4pm, the boat was found with her child aboard, but Rivera was not at the scene. 

Her car was still parked at the lake and was later removed by authorities. 

According to reports, the alarm was raised when someone on another boat noticed the boat was drifting with a child asleep on board. 

Naya Rivera Pic

It has also been reported that Rivera's life vest was still on the vessel.

“There’s a lot of challenges in a reservoir this size, at times with visibility,” Capt. Eric Buschow, of the sheriff’s department, said.

“I don’t have details yet as to the depth of the area where the boat was found or what conditions they’re encountering out there.”

Authorities believe Naya to be 'presumed drowned' and a search has been launched to locate her body.

A search and rescue dive team and a helicopter with a drone have been sent to the scene to help with the search. 

naya rivera glee pic

Here is the full statement Buschow shared with reporters:

They were seen going out on the lake together in the early afternoon, and approximately three hours after they left the dock another boater out on the lake discovered the boat drifting with the [son] on board asleep.

So they contacted the rangers and began an investigation and we've been actively searching for the mother since that time. We have both aerial search going on and our dive team as well.

Indications are that we believe she did go in the lake. At this point it's still a search and that's what we know up to this point.

The [son] said that she had been swimming with her mother and that she got back in the boat and her mum didn't.

Naya Rivera Attends Youtube Event

We know that the girl had a life vest on, there was another adult life vest found on the boat. It's somewhat challenging interviewing a three-year-old.

We're going on the belief that she did go in the water, and we've not been able to locate her. This may well be a case of drowning. 'This is a big reservoir, it's deep, these kinds of things happen. We don't know all the circumstances. Investigators are working on that, getting as much information as possible.

The sheriff's office initially mistakenly referred to a three-year-old girl, but later clarified that the child is a four-year-old son.

The Ventura Sheriff's Department took to social media to say that the missing person was identified as Rivera and that the search will continue at first light. 

A Tweet reads, "The missing person at Lake Puru has been identified as Naya Rivera, 33, of Los Angeles. SAR operation will continue at first light."

On Tuesday, Rivera shared a photo of her with son, writing the following:

"Just the two of us".

naya rivera instagram

Rivera played Santana Lopez on hit Fox dramedy Glee from 2009-15.

Rivera also in Step Up: High Water, which started on YouTube, but was canceled after two seasons. 

It was recently revealed, however, that Starz had stepped in to pick up the series under the title Step Up. 

In the wake of the sad news, celebrities took to social media. We've rounded up some of the reactions below. 

Harry Shum Jr. 


Naya Rivera Attends UNICEF Event

Iqbal theba

Oh God... mercy... please...

Karamo Brown

Praying for Naya Rivera. I don’t know her but I hope she is safe.

Jackée Harry

Prayers up for the lovely Naya Rivera. 🙏🙏 We starred alongside one another in her first very television series, The Royal Family, and I’ve watched her career blossom ever since. Please God, don’t cut this life short.

Naya Rivera Attends Vanity Fair Event

Heather Morris

We need all the prayers we can get to bring Naya back home to us. We need your love and light. 

Lesley-Ann Brandt 

Praying for her safe return and her son. Such sad news. 

Tika Sumpter

Praying for Naya Rivera. I hope she's ok.

UPDATE: "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," a sheriff's 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."

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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