Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Naya Rivera missing and presumed dead after 4-year-old son found alone on boat in California lake

Naya Rivera
Naya Rivera
Photo: Presley Ann for Libertine (Getty Images)

Glee star Naya Rivera is presumed dead after her 4-year-old son, Josey, was found alone on the boat they’d rented. According to multiple reports, the actress rented a pontoon at Lake Piru in Ventura County, Calif., on Wednesday and spent the day swimming with her son. When she was late returning the boat, staff at the lake went searching for them and found the 4-year-old alone on the pontoon. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department posted a tweet just after 10:30 p.m. local time Wednesday reading, “The missing person at Lake Puru [sic] has been identified as Naya Rivera, 33, of Los Angeles. [Search and rescue] operation will continue at first light.”

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[Update: At 5:45 a.m. local time Thursday morning, the VCSD account posted a tweet stating, “The search for Naya Rivera will continue this morning at Lake Piru. The lake will be closed to the public while search operations continue. Dive teams from throughout the region will be assisting us through mutual aid.” At 10:27 a.m. local time, the VCSD tweeted again: “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.”

At a press conference later on Thursday, VCSD officer Chris Deyer said, “there’s no signs of foul play, no signs of anything that went wrong besides a tragic accident,” according to The Washington Post. “Switching that mode to a search-and-recovery mode, like I said, does not change the efforts and does not change the gusto, what we push forward with the search operation. The goal is still to bring Ms. Rivera home to her family, so they can have some closure.”

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At a 3 p.m. PT press conference, officials said they had spoken to Josiah. While authorities would not say if the 4-year-old saw his mother go under the water and not return, they did reveal that the child said enough for them to believe that “his mother never made it out of the water.” A written statement provided by VCSD stated that approximately 100 people are now involved in the search, but that divers are experiencing “less than one foot of visibility in the water” and “investigators believe Rivera drowned in what appears to be a tragic accident.” Approximately 45 minutes later, the VCSD released the 9-1-1 audio of a woman calling to report a “missing person.” The woman who placed the call informs the operator that her husband had found a child alone and she would be able to provide more information once she was on site.]

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Per Yahoo! News, Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Eric Buschow shared that Josey got back onto the boat after a swim, but his mother did not follow. The 4-year-old was found sleeping on the boat by himself by other boaters in the lake. “He’s in good health,” Bushow confirmed Wednesday evening. “The family is going through a very traumatic time right now.” Josey is Rivera’s son with ex-husband Ryan Dorsey; the former couple have shared custody of their only child since their 2018 divorce.

Naya Rivera with son Josey in February 2019
Naya Rivera with son Josey in February 2019
Photo: Gregg DeGuire (Getty Images)
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Rivera’s fans have been leaving messages on the actress’ social media accounts since the news of her disappearance broke. “no matter the year, circumstance, or strifes everyday you’re alive is a blessing,” reads her Instagram post from July 2 that’s getting attention from fans. “make the most of today and every day you are given. tomorrow is not promised.”

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In the years since Glee ended in 2015, Rivera has released a memoir and starred on the YouTube series Step Up: High Water. We will be updating this story with the latest as events develop.

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A.V. Club Editor in Chief...but really just a She-Ra, Schitt’s Creek, Grey’s Anatomy, Survivor, Big Brother, Top Chef, The Good Place superfan.

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