Naya Rivera, 33, remains missing after a two-day search effort in California’s vast Lake Piru. Despite a team of 50 personnel that was deployed into the area on July 8, which increased to about 100 the following Thursday morning, the Glee star has yet to be found after she failed to return to her rented pontoon boat where her four-year-old son, Josey Hollis Dorsey, was found sleeping alone on Wednesday afternoon. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office revealed that Thursday’s search operation — which turned into a “recovery mission” for Naya’s body — was a “very slow process.” Sgt. Kevin Donoghue then shared even more grave news in a press conference after Thursday’s unsuccessful search party: “If the body is entangled in something beneath the water, it may never come back up.”
The sergeant further explained why it’s been so difficult to locate Naya’s body, even with the help of a team of divers. “In a lake the visibility is not very good. So, if you’ve ever watched underwater video and you’ve seen divers in the ocean, typically the visibility in the ocean water is much better. So, in the lake, the visibility is terrible,” Sgt. Donoghue said during Thursday’s press conference. Noting Lake Piru’s underwater terrain, he added, “In this particular lake, in that area, there’s a lot of trees and plants and such that are under the water that can cause entanglements. Makes it unsafe for the divers and it makes a more complicated search.”
In the area where Naya’s boat was found, the search area encompassed “about 30 feet of water,” Sgt. Donoghue added. The visibility wasn’t great, either; Sgt. Donoghue estimated that there was “15 feet of visibility” in the lake (meanwhile, divers only had “less than one foot of visibility in the water in daylight,” according to the sheriff’s office’s community message obtained by HollywoodLife).
Naya Rivera shared this Instagram post of herself and the ‘Glee’ star’s son just one day before going missing. (Instagram/@nayarivera)
Lake Piru, located North of Los Angeles, spans four miles in length and covers 1,240 surface acres — but the search team isn’t focusing on the entire area. “We have to go with where the boat was found initially and then work our way outward from there,” Sgt. Donoghue said. “And when you’re talking about underwater and visibility that’s really limited, it’s a slow-going search process.”
Investigators now believe that Naya “drowned in what appeared to be a tragic accident,” per the community message provided by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. However, Sgt. Donoghue couldn’t speak on the actress’s actual boating or swimming skills. Despite Lake Piru’s history with drowning incidents, the cop said, “Swimming’s permitted in the lake. There’s really no strong undercurrents as you would have in the ocean but sometimes the water can be very cold and hypothermic elements of being in cold water could affect some people, but I don’t know that that’s the case here.”
The search isn’t over just yet. “We’re using all the assets that are available to us…We have experts who have dove this lake, who know it inside and out, who know where debris pockets might be. So, we’re going to do everything we can to find her. We’re going to continue to search,” Sgt. Donoghue assured during the press conference. “The search managers, those that are responsible for managing the overall search, they may get to a point in time where they’ve expelled every resource, they’ve searched every area, the probability of detection of finding someone in a particular area they’ve exhausted and when we get to that point that’s probably when they’ll have suspend the search, but we’re not there yet.”
Naya was reported missing after a 911 phone call was phoned into the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday, July 8. “As I understand it, [Naya] rented the boat sometime on or before one p.m. It was a three-hour rental. She was supposed to be bring the boat back at four p.m. At around 4:30, when she didn’t return the boat, the concession workers that are responsible for renting the boats went out looking for her and that’s when they found the boat and placed the call to 911,” Sgt. Donogue explained in the press conference. The mother’s purse, ID, and life vest were found on her rented boat. Thankfully, her son is in good health, and has reunited with his dad (Naya’s ex-husband) Ryan Dorsey, 36.