On Thursday morning, search parties resumed their attempt to find Glee actress Naya Rivera, who’s been missing from Lake Piru in Ventura County in California, since Wednesday afternoon.
Local authorities now believe she drowned.
The 33-year-old was last seen taking a rented pontoon boat out on the lake with her four-year-old son, Josey, whom she shares with ex-husband Ryan Dorsey.
About three hours later, a boater discovered Josey, apparently unharmed, sleeping in the boat alone and alerted authorities who then began their extensive search for Naya.
The little boy told investigators he and his mom had been swimming, and he got back into the boat but she didn’t.
The actress’ identity was confirmed after investigators found her wallet and ID on the boat, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The area where the boat was found is about 9m deep and consists of murky waters heavy with plants which have made it difficult for divers to see more than 30cm ahead of them, Sheriff’s Sergeant Kevin Donoghue said on Thursday, 9 July.
"If the body is entangled on something beneath the water, it may never come back up," Sergeant Donoghue said.
Surveillance video taken at around 1pm on Wednesday shows Naya and her son going out on the rented boat.
“He [Josey] is in good health,” Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Captain Eric Buschow told the Los Angeles Times. “The family is going through a very traumatic time right now.”
The search for Naya was suspended on Wednesday night and resumed at daybreak Thursday. The sheriff's office later announced the search had turned into a "recovery mission” and she’s now presumed dead.
"Approximately 50 sheriff’s personnel, along with a helicopter, boat crews, divers, and unmanned aerial vehicles searched the lake for five hours Wednesday evening, but Rivera couldn’t be found," the sheriff's office statement said.
"The entire shoreline and surface of the lake were thoroughly searched. Divers also searched underwater in the area where the boat had last been seen. However, there was no sign of Rivera.
Multiple teams of professional search & rescue personnel are actively searching Lake Piru for clues to the location of Naya Rivera. With over 80 people involved in the search right now, we are using helicopters, boats, ATV vehicles, and ground personnel to try and locate her. pic.twitter.com/o2bN5sQFms— Ventura Co. Sheriff (@VENTURASHERIFF) July 9, 2020
"The search resumed Thursday morning with divers experiencing less than one foot of visibility in the water in daylight. The difficult conditions have made the recovery operation a very slow process,” the statement continued.
“The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is assisting in the search with divers and sonar equipment. Approximately 100 personnel are participating in the mission on Thursday, including resources from neighbouring counties and the United States Coast Guard."
Citing officials, Fox LA previously reported that Naya's purse and an adult life jacket were found on the boat. Her car was also discovered in the parking lot.