The search for “Glee” star Naya Rivera continues on Lake Piru in Ventura County, Calif., but searchers have scaled back operations amid difficult conditions underwater.
Rivera went missing after renting a boat with her 4-year-old son on Wednesday afternoon. After she did not return to the rental stand on time, workers found her boat on the north end of the lake. Her son was asleep on board, and her life jacket and purse were on the boat, but Rivera was nowhere to be found.
Based on an interview with the boy, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office believes that she accidentally drowned in the lake. The search shifted on Thursday morning from a rescue to a recovery operation, and about 100 divers and searchers were on hand to try to locate her.
On Friday, however, the effort had been scaled back to about 40 personnel. At an afternoon press conference, Sheriff’s Capt. Eric Buschow said that the search is largely being conducted using side-scanning sonar devices.
“We don’t know if she’s going to be found five minutes from now or five days from now,” Buschow said.
The visibility underwater is limited to about one to two feet, he said, and divers had been blindly using their hands to try to locate her body. Buschow said that the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department team had spotted some promising images on the sonar device, and sent an underwater robot to check them out. But that did not pan out, and the search continues.
Rivera’s boat was found in about 30 feet of water, but the bottom of the lake is uneven and is strewn with tree branches and other vegetation, making it difficult for divers to conduct the search.
Ventura County officials have said it could take several days to a week for Rivera’s body to surface on its own. Buschow said on Friday that the water company that operates the reservoir is expected to lower the level by 65 feet next month, in order to do maintenance on the dam.
Rivera, 33, played Santana Lopez on “Glee” from 2009 to 2015.