The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department told Us that the Glee alum, 33, rented a motorized pontoon boat for three hours on Wednesday at Lake Piru in the Ventura County area of Los Angeles. When she was 30 minutes overdue to return the boat, personnel went searching for the vessel.
“[They] found her boat adrift with Naya’s 4-year-old son asleep on the boat and Naya was nowhere to be found,” the department said in a statement to Us. “This is an active investigation. It is believed that Naya and her son were swimming in the lake near the boat and as they were getting back into the boat, her son made it into the boat and Naya went under water and did not resurface.”
The authorities said they were contacted at 4:38 p.m. on Wednesday, which is when a “large scale search and rescue operation” began. The search included drone teams, sheriff’s boat and dive team.
“The search was terminated at 10:00 p.m. due to darkness and safety of the search and rescue officers and will resume tomorrow at 6:30 a.m.,” the sheriff’s office explained. “Ventura County Sheriff’s Department has asked for additional divers and sonar equipment for the continued search tomorrow.”
Earlier in the evening, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department shared a video clip of a rescue helicopter flying over the area while looking for the missing star. “The missing person at Lake Piru has been identified as Naya Rivera, 33, of Los Angeles,” the department tweeted. “SAR operation will continue at first light.”
Ventura County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Captain Eric Buschow told Us that Rivera rented the boat at about 1 p.m. and her son, whom she shares with ex-husband Ryan Dorsey, was discovered at 4 p.m.
“When the boy was found, he had a life vest on, which is California law,” Buschow said. “There was another vest on board the boat for an adult, so it looks like she was not wearing a vest.”
According to Josey, the two were “in the water swimming together” before his mom went missing. “He came up and got back up on the boat, but she did not,” Buschow explained. “He was found on the boat by a passerby. He was found fast asleep on the boat by himself.”
The captain noted that the actress’ family came to pick up Josey and said, “I can only imagine the family is going through a traumatic experience right now.”
The search for the Step Up: High Water star will resume on Thursday.
“It’s still a search and rescue operation based on the circumstances,” the captain continued. “The fact that she was seen in the water shows there is a high likelihood that she drowned.”
According to Buschow, there is no indication of foul play, however, and the preliminary investigation shows that it was an accident. “We aren’t going to go that far right now,” he said when asked about the possibility of an accidental drowning. “All indications point to that, but we are not there yet.”
This story is developing.
With reporting by Marjorie Hernandez
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