‘Glee’ actress Naya Rivera saved son before drowning, sheriff says

VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. — Sheriff’s deputies in Ventura County found a body Monday in Lake Piru five days after launching a search for missing actress Naya Rivera.

Rivera, 33, had visited the lake with her son, according to authorities. The boy was found alone in the rented boat on the afternoon of July 8. Before her disappearance, Rivera posted a photo of herself and her son on social media.

Here are the latest updates:

Update 8:50 p.m. EDT July 13: “Glee” star Naya Rivera’s 4-year-old son told investigators that his mother heaved him back on the deck of their rented boat before she disappeared under the water.

Rivera’s body was identified by authorities Monday following its recovery from a Southern California lake earlier in the day.

“She must have mustered enough energy to get her son back on the boat, but not enough to save herself,” Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said during a news conference.

The child, Josey Hollis Dorsey, was found asleep in a life vest on the drifting pontoon boat about three hours after the pair launched on Lake Piru northwest of Los Angeles, launching a five-day search that ended with the discovery of the 33-year-old actress’s body, The Associated Press reported.

Ayub said investigators believe that Rivera drowned accidentally and that her body was most likely trapped in the vegetation under the lake for several days before floating to the top, the AP reported.

Update 5:45 p.m. EDT July 13: A body found in Lake Piru is believed to be that of actress Naya Rivera, who disappeared five days ago during a boat outing with her young son, authorities said Monday.

Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said during a Monday news conference that authorities are confident the body is Rivera’s, based on its physical description and where it was discovered, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Capt. Eric Buschow of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department said the area was searched thoroughly by dive crews using sonar equipment.

“That particular area, when it was searched by divers, they were literally crawling on hands and knees at bottom of the lake attached by ropes so they could make their way back out because visibility is so poor,” Buschow said.

Divers, helicopters, drone aircraft and cadaver dogs have been searching for Rivera for days, the Times reported.

Ventura County medical examiners will determine the cause of death.

Update 1:40 p.m. EDT July 13: Actress and comedian Jane Lynch shared condolences for the family of Naya Rivera on social media Monday after authorities found a body in the lake from which the 33-year-old actress vanished last week.

“Rest sweet, Naya,” Lynch wrote. “What a force you were. Love and peace to your family.”

Lynch portrayed cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester alongside Rivera, who played cheerleader Santana Lopez, in Fox’s “Glee.” The musical comedy-drama series ran from 2009 to 2015.

Update 12:50 p.m. EDT July 13: Ventura County sheriff’s deputies said Monday that they were working to recover a body found earlier in the day at Lake Piru, where “Glee” actress Naya Rivera was last seen on July 8.

Officials are expected to provide more information at a news conference scheduled to start at 2 p.m. local time.

Update 12:45 p.m. EDT July 13: Deputies with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday that crews searching for “Glee” star Naya Rivera found a body in the lake from which she vanished last week.

It was not immediately clear whether the body was found had been identified as Rivera’s. Deputies are expected to release more information at a news conference scheduled to start at 2 p.m. local time.

Update 10:55 a.m. EDT July 13: Officials searching for “Glee” star Naya Rivera told US Weekly that she sent a photo of her son to a family member as little as an hour and a half before he was found alone last week on a boat she had rented for them in Lake Piru.

Robert Inglis of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue Team told US Weekly that crews were able to find the cove where the image was taken and that it, along with the location where the boat was found Wednesday, served as a starting point for the search.

“We did send out our dive members to those two locations and searched those extensively,” Inglis said. US Weekly reported that the image was timestamped 90 minutes to two hours before Rivera’s son, Josey, was found half a mile from the shore of Lake Piru.

Search teams are grappling with poor visibility in the lake along with dangerous conditions caused by tress and brush in the lake, according to US Weekly. Sheriff’s office officials said last week that teams equipped with sonar were aiding in the search.

Rivera, 33, disappeared from Lake Piru on July 8.

Update 1:06 a.m. EDT July 13: Officials with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office announced late Sunday that they are suspending the search for missing “Glee” actress Naya Rivera and will resume searching Monday morning.

Update 11:41 p.m. EDT July 11: Officials with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office announced late Saturday that they are suspending the search for missing “Glee” actress Naya Rivera and will resume searching Sunday morning.

Update 6:24 p.m. EDT July 10: The search for Naya Rivera continued Friday afternoon, and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said “conditions are difficult” in Lake Piru, with visibility only about 1 to 2 feet in waters that are up to 35 feet deep.

“We don’t know if she’s going to be found five minutes from now, or five days from now,” Ventura County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Capt. Eric Buschow said at a news conference.

Buschow said the lake will remain closed as teams continue to search for Rivera. He said the main focus of the search was in the northern and eastern parts of the lake, known as the narrows.

Rivera remained missing one day after authorities told news stations that search efforts had shifted from rescue to recovery operations, indicating that the actress is presumed to have died.

Update 2:15 p.m. EDT July 10: A video released Thursday by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office showed Rivera and her parking at Lake Piru and walking with her son to a pontoon boat on the afternoon of her disappearance.

Deputies said the boat traveled north. Her 4-year-old son was found alone on the boat hours later.

Rivera remained missing Friday, one day after authorities told news stations that search efforts had shifted from rescue to recovery operations, indicating that the actress is presumed to have died.

Update 12:54 a.m. EDT July 10: Officials with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office announced late Thursday that they are suspending the search for missing “Glee” actress Naya Rivera and will resume searching Friday morning.

Update 3:40 p.m. EDT July 9: Officials with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said specialized dive teams from Los Angeles, San Louis Obispo and Tulare counties are assisting in the search for missing “Glee” actress Naya Rivera.

Authorities said more than 80 people were searching for Rivera on Thursday using helicopters, boats and ATV vehicles.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to all of the family and friends of the Rivera family,” deputies said in a statement posted on Twitter.

At a news conference, Capt. Eric Buschow said searchers were operating on the assumption that Rivera went into the lake after she rented a pontoon boat around 1 p.m. Wednesday for her and her 4-year-old son.

“We have not been able to locate her,” Bushchow said. “So this may well be a case of drowning.”

Update 1 p.m. EDT July 9: Officials in Ventura County resumed a search Thursday for “Glee” star Naya Rivera, who was identified Wednesday as a possible downing victim at California’s Lake Piru.

Authorities searched for Rivera for hours Wednesday after she failed to return a rented boat at the expected time, according to the Ventura County Star. A staff member for the boat rental company found Rivera’s son alone in the boat she had rented around 4 p.m., the newspaper reported.

Deputies told KCBS-TV that search and rescue efforts shifted into search and recovery efforts Thursday.

Original report: According to KCBS and KNBC, the 33-year-old actress rented a boat Wednesday afternoon and went swimming on the lake with her 4-year-old son, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said. The boy, who was wearing a life vest, safely returned to the boat, but Rivera never did, deputies said.

Staffers with the boat rental company discovered the boy alone on the vessel and alerted authorities, who looked for the actress until suspending the search late Wednesday, KABC reported. The search will resume Thursday, officials said.

Deputies believe Rivera might have drowned and is presumed dead, according to KABC and KNBC.

Rivera is best known for her roles as Santana Lopez on the TV series “Glee” and Collette Jones on “Step Up: High Water.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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