Body found in search for missing Glee star Naya Rivera

A body has been found at the California lake where former Glee actress NayaRivera went missing, police say.

The 33-year-old is believed to have drowned in Lake Piru, northwest of Los Angeles, after she rented a boat with her young son last Wednesday.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said a body had been found in the reservoir on Monday but did not immediately say if it was Rivera’s, adding that “the recovery is in progress” and they would hold a press conference at the lake soon.

US actress Naya Rivera and son Josey Hollis arrive for the premiere of "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part" at the Regency Village theatre on February 2, 2019 in Westwood, California
Image:Rivera’s son, Josey Hollis, was found asleep on the boat by himself

Rivera’s four-year-old son, Josey Hollis Dorsey, was discovered alone in the boat, asleep and wearing a life jacket on Wednesday afternoon.

He told investigators he and his mother went swimming and he got back on the boat, but “his mum never made it out of the water,” sheriff’s sergeant Kevin Donoghue said on Sunday.

The little boy saw his mother “disappear beneath the water“, Sgt Donoghue said earlier.

Search teams have been scouring the large lake since Rivera’s disappearance, with divers and teams using sonar equipment continuing the search on Monday.

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Less than 24 hours after launching a rescue mission, police said Rivera was presumed dead based on what her son had told them.

Police had to ask fans and Rivera’s friends to not search for her body, saying their teams “are well equipped and highly trained. We don’t want to have to rescue you”.

A helicopter searches over Lake Piru in Ventura County, California on July 9, 2020 for former Glee actress Naya Rivera
Image:A large search operation was launched after the Glee actress went missing

CCTV from the dock showed the actress driving the boat off at about 1pm and it was later found drifting in the northern area of the lake at around 4pm.

Authorities said Rivera had experience of boating on the lake in Los Padres National Forest.

Investigators had stressed the many difficulties posed by the search, including strong currents, dangerous underwater debris and visibility of one to two feet.

Police on Sunday extended their search from the lake to the cabins and outbuildings around the lake, and looked again at the shoreline.

An online petition signed by nearly 15,000 people demanded the search be extended in case Rivera had left the lake, but police said they were almost certain she was still in the water.

They used sonar devices attached to boats to scan the bottom of the lake and police divers and cadaver dogs also took part, while helicopters searched from above.

Naya Rivera is feared drowned after going missing at Lake Piru, Southern California
Image:Lake Piru is about an hour’s drive from Los Angeles

Rivera played singing cheerleader Santana Lopez for six seasons on the musical-comedy TV series Glee.

If the body is confirmed as Rivera’s she will become the third Glee cast member to die in their 30s, after lead actor Cory Monteith died at 31 in 2013 from a toxic mix of alcohol and heroin.

In 2018, co-star Mark Salling, who Rivera previously dated, killed himself at age 35 after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.

Rivera got engaged to rapper Big Sean in 2013 but their relationship ended in 2014 before she began dating actor Ryan Dorsey and getting married in Mexico three months later.

They had their son in September 2015 before Rivera filed for divorce afer two years of marriage, which was then called off before their divorce was finalised in June 2018.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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