news 1 month ago

Naya Rivera Search Continues; Surrounding Area Is Part of Effort

Variety — Pat Saperstein

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department is attempting to dissaude the public from joining the search for “Glee” actress Naya Rivera, who is presumed to be drowned after a swimming accident Wednesday at California’s Lake Piru.

Ventura County Sheriff’s Captain Eric Buschow told Variety that authorities do not want friends or fans of Rivera to attempt to search the area by themselves.

“It’s going to be oppressively hot. It’s very steep, very rugged,” Buschow said Sunday, just as temperatures were hitting 100 degrees at the lake.

“They’re well-intentioned, they want to help,” Buschow said of the offers to join the effort, but if searchers suffer dehydration and heat exhaustion, “That takes away from the search for Naya Rivera.”

“We have people who have been doing this for years and years. We have search and rescue operations that take place all the time,” he said, explaining that most of Ventura county is rural backcountry.

Buschow said that Lake Piru is closed to anyone who is not credentialed media or part of the official search and rescue team and specified that the shoreline and all of the surrounding area was searched on the first day.

“There is no evidence that she made it to land. It’s doubtful she would get to shore and she would have been seen,” he said.

Sonar scans of the lake will be completed today, Buschow said, and the search will continue on a day-to-day basis though “not at the same intensity.”

Rivera’s fans have been vocal in asking rescuers to expand their search area beyond the lake in case Rivera was able to make it to shore. Fans have started petitions and offered to go to the location to help search. The Sheriff’s department confirmed that searching beyond the lake, in surrounding cabins, outbuildings and other areas has been part of the ongoing search effort since Wednesday.

Fellow “Glee” actress Heather Morris is among those who offered to visit the area to aid in the search. But officials are dissuading anyone from trying to join the search.

Rivera had rented a pontoon boat with her 4-year old son on Wednesday afternoon and did not return. Her son was found sleeping on the boat wearing a life jacket, while her identification and life jacket were found in the boat. The son told officials that he and his mother had gone swimming and only he got back on the boat.

Officials said the search has been hampered by numerous trees and obstacles on the lake bottom, as well as poor visibility. Divers are using mechanical robots to aid in the difficult search.

TMZ reported that Rivera’s father, mother and brother Mychal have visited the site of the search operation.

A change.org petition asking for warning signs to be erected at the lake has totaled nearly 30,000 signatures. Several other people have drowned in the lake in previous years.

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.