Former “Glee” actress Naya Rivera, who has been missing after swimming in Lake Piru in Ventura County on Wednesday, had experience boating there, authorities said on Thursday. Investigators also said they believe Rivera “drowned in what appears to be a tragic accident.”
Rivera had rented a boat at Lake Piru, a reservoir near Santa Clarita in nearby Los Angeles county, which departed from the dock around 1:00 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. She was swimming with her 4-year-old son when, for unknown reasons, she submerged and did not resurface.
In a press conference on Thursday, Kevin Donoghue, sergeant at the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, said that Rivera’s 4-year-old son, who was found alone on the boat in the middle of the lake, told investigators enough information that made them “conclude that his mother never made it out of the water.”
He also said that there are trees, roots and weeds underwater that could cause entanglements. Rivera had experience boating on this lake before, while her son did not.
The Sheriff’s department has also recovered video evidence from the dock that shows only Rivera and her son boarding the boat. Investigators will release the footage to the public shortly.
“We’ve had no indication after talking to her son that Ms. Rivera made it to shore, so our focus is in the water at this time,” he explained, adding that authorities are searching the northern half of the lake, a search area about 30 feet wide.
He also said that swimming is permitted in the lake because there are no strong undercurrents. Although divers have been searching the water and shorelines, there has been no sign of Rivera. Earlier on Thursday, the search and rescue operation shifted to a recovery. Officials are using sonar technology in the search.
Previously, a spokesperson for the department had told TheWrap: “We believe a tragic accident happened and she may have lost her life in the lake.”
Rivera currently appears in the recurring role of Collette Jones on the “Step Up” series adaptation, which previously aired on YouTube Red and will air on Starz for its upcoming third season. Her other credits include “Devious Maids,” “The Bernie Mac Show” and “American Dad.”