Naya Rivera missing: Authorities continue to search for 'Glee' star believed to have drowned

New surveillance video shows actress Naya Rivera and her son at Lake Piru before her disappearance.

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Friday, July 10, 2020
Search continues for for 'Glee' star Naya Rivera believed to have drowned
Authorities planned Friday to renew the search for "Glee" star Naya Rivera, who's believed to have drowned in a lake while boating with her 4-year-old son. ABC News reporter Kaylee Hartung has the latest.

LAKE PIRU, Calif. -- Authorities planned Friday to renew the search for "Glee" star Naya Rivera, who is believed to have drowned in a Southern California lake while boating with her 4-year-old son.

Rivera, 33, disappeared after renting the pontoon boat for three hours Wednesday afternoon and taking it out on Lake Piru in Ventura County, the Sheriff's Office said Thursday.

The lake an hour's drive from Los Angeles was searched by dozens of people, most of them divers, with help from helicopters, drones and all-terrain vehicles. The search to recover Rivera's body continued into the night Thursday before ending for that day.

The area where the boat was found is about 30 feet deep. Murky waters heavy with plants made it difficult for divers to see more than about a foot ahead of them, sheriff's Sgt. Kevin Donoghue said Thursday.

"If the body is entangled on something beneath the water, it may never come back up," Donoghue said.

WATCH: Surveillance video shows Naya Rivera, son at Lake Piru before her disappearance

Ventura County Sheriff's Department released surveillance video on Thursday that shows actress Naya Rivera and her son at Lake Piru before her disappearance.

Rivera played Santana Lopez, a singing cheerleader in 113 episodes of the musical-comedy "Glee," which aired on Fox from 2009 until 2015. She also had recurring roles on "The Bernie Mac Show" and "The Royal Family."

Rivera, a Los Angeles resident, had experience boating on the lake in Los Padres National Forest, Donoghue said.

Surveillance video taken at about 1 p.m. Wednesday shows Rivera and her son, Josey Hollis Dorsey, leaving on the rented boat.

When the boat failed to return, its vendor found the vessel drifting in the northern end of the lake late Wednesday afternoon with the boy asleep on board. He told investigators that he and his mother had been swimming and he got back into the boat but she didn't, according to a sheriff's office statement.

The boy was wearing a life vest and another life jacket was found in the boat along with Rivera's purse and identification.

Rivera is believed to have drowned "in what appears to be a tragic accident," the statement said.

WATCH: Sheriff's spokesperson gives update on efforts to find missing actress at Lake Piru

A Ventura County sheriff's spokesman said the search-and-rescue effort for missing actress Naya Rivera has transitioned to a search-and-recovery operation.

The boy, Rivera's son from her marriage to actor Ryan Dorsey, was safe and healthy and with family members, authorities said. The couple finalized their divorce in June 2018 after nearly four years of marriage.

She called the boy, her only child, "my greatest success, and I will never do any better than him" in her 2016 memoir "Sorry Not Sorry."

The most recent tweet on Rivera's account, from Tuesday, read "just the two of us" along with a photo of her and her son.

It appeared increasingly likely she would become the third major cast member from the show to die in their 30s.

Co-star Mark Salling, who Rivera dated at one point, died by suicide in 2018 at age 35 after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.

Cory Monteith, one of the show's leads, died at 31 in 2013 from a toxic mix of alcohol and heroin.

Rivera was engaged to rapper Big Sean in 2013, but their relationship ended a year later. The pair met on Twitter and collaborated musically, with the rapper appearing on Rivera's debut single "Sorry." She married Dorsey a few months later.


  • 1 p.m.: Actress Naya Rivera rents a flat-bottomed pontoon boat on Wednesday and, along with her 4-year-old son, heads toward the north shore of Lake Piru for a planned three-hour excursion.
  • 4:30 p.m.: After the pair does not return as scheduled, a boat-rental shop employee goes out on the lake to search for them. Rivera's son is found aboard the boat, safe but alone. Authorities are notified and a massive search ensues.
  • 10 p.m.: Search-and-rescue efforts by some 50 personnel are temporarily suspended in the evening due to hazardous conditions, including poor visibility.
  • Overnight: Ventura County sheriff's deputies and searchers from other agencies remain at the scene, monitoring and planning for the operation to resume at first light.
  • Sunrise: The number of people participating in the search -- on boats, ATVs and in the water -- expands to more than 80 on Thursday morning.
  • 8:30 a.m.: A sheriff's spokesman confirms that Rivera is presumed dead in a possible drowning accident. The search transitions to a recovery operation.
  • Noon: Rivera's body remains missing as divers continue to scour the lake amid calm conditions and optimal visibility. Authorities expect winds to pick up around 1 p.m.
  • 3 p.m.: Ventura County Sheriff's Department holds press conference and says surveillance video shows Rivera and her son were the only people on rented boat when it left shore. Search to continue in water.