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Ventura County

Search for missing ‘Glee’ actress now being treated as recovery mission

Ventura County Sheriff's Helicopter search for missing actress Naya Rivera
Ventura County Sheriff's Office

VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. - The search for an actress who went missing near Lake Piru is now being treated as a recovery mission, the Ventura County Sheriff's Office said Thursday.

33-year-old Naya Rivera was reported missing Wednesday after a boat she had rented was found drifting in the northern portion of the lake. Her four-year-old son was found asleep on the boat.

The boy told investigators that the two were swimming in the lake. When he returned to the boat, his mother was nowhere to be found.

Dozens of sheriff’s personnel searched the lake and the surrounding area for five hours Wednesday night. They were aided by a helicopter, boat crews, divers, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

The entire shoreline and surface of the lake were thoroughly searched, the sheriff's office said. Divers searched underwater in the area where the boat was last seen but they were unable to locate the missing woman.

The search was suspended late Wednesday night due reduced visibility and dangerous conditions for divers.

The conditions of Thursday's search were described as difficult, with less than one-foot of visibility in the water, as the total number of crews searching for Rivera doubled in size. Dive teams from Tulare, San Luis Obispo, and Los Angeles lended a hand in the search. Los Angeles County provided sonar equipment for the dive teams.

By 3 p.m. Thursday, the Ventura County Sheriff's Office said the search for the missing actress had shifted to a recovery operation, meaning she is presumed to have died. Crews will continue to search the waters for Rivera's body.

The actress-singer is best known for portraying the character Santana Lopez on Fox's "Glee." She parlayed that success on the wildly popular musical sitcom to launch a solo music and acting career.

The Ventura County Sheriff's Office says it appears Rivera drowned in an apparent "tragic accident."

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Travis Schlepp

Travis Schlepp is the Digital Content Director for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Travis, click here.

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