By Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Authorities said Thursday that they believe “Glee” star Naya Rivera drowned in a Southern California lake but they are continuing the search for her a day after her 4-year-old son was found alone in a rented boat.
“Investigators believe Rivera drowned in what appears to be a tragic accident,” a Ventura County Sheriff’s Office statement said.
The boy, who was found asleep and wearing a life vest late Wednesday afternoon, told investigators that he and his mother went swimming and he got back on the boat, but “his mom never made it out of the water,” Sheriff’s Sgt. Kevin Donoghue said.
Surveillance video taken at about 1 p.m. Wednesday shows Rivera and the boy leaving on the boat at Lake Piru, something she had done before.
“She had experience boating out here at the lake,” Donoghue said.
The boy was discovered by the vendor who rented the boat to the pair. Rivera’s identification and an adult life vest were on the boat, and her car was found in a parking area, Donoghue said.
In a news conference more than 24 hours after the two had set out, Donoghue said that the effort had shifted from an attempt to rescue the 33-year-old to an attempt to recover her body.
Dozens of people, most of them divers, with help from helicopters, drones and all-terrain vehicles were involved in the search on Lake Piru, 55 miles northwest of Los Angeles in the Los Padres National Forest.
In the area where the boat was found, the water was about 30 feet deep, authorities said.
Murky waters heavy with vegetation made it difficult for divers to see more than about a foot ahead of them.
“In the lake, the visibility is terrible,” Donoghue said.
He said the plants proving challenging for divers may have been a problem for Rivera herself.
“If the body is entangled on something beneath the water, it may never come back up,” Donoghue said.
The search was to continue into the night.
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.