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Naya Rivera's body could be entangled underwater and may never be found, say cops after she's presumed dead

Ventura County Sheriff's office said the effort to find the actress has been classified as a search and recovery operation in which around 100 personnel are involved
UPDATED JUL 10, 2020
Naya Rivera (Getty Images)
Naya Rivera (Getty Images)

The body of Naya Rivera, who is missing and feared dead, may never be recovered, said police officials involved in the search operation. The 33-year-old actress went missing in the afternoon on Wednesday, July 8, after going for boating and swimming with her four-year-old Josey at Lake Piru in South California. Rivera had rented a pontoon boat on the lake before sailing out. She was reported missing after another boater found her son sleeping alone in the boat. Officers who responded to the scene found an adult life-vest life jacket in the boat, suggesting Rivera was not wearing one. They also found the actress’s wallet and identification on the boat which helped them to confirm the identity of the missing person. While Josey told officers “he had been swimming with his mother and that he got back in the boat and her mum didn't”.

Ventura County Sheriff’s Department helicopter flies over Lake Piru where actress Naya Rivera was reported missing (Getty Images)

However, now 24 hours have passed since the search operation was launched, the Ventura County Sheriff's office said on Thursday, July 9, that they were presuming Rivera have drowned and the effort to find her has been classified as a "search and recovery operation" in which around 100 personnel are involved. Providing an update on the case, Ventura Country Sheriff Sergeant Kevin Donoghue on Thursday released a CCTV footage showing the actress and her son arriving at the lake, parking the car and then boarding a boat. Donoghue also said that it may be weeks before the body is found, The Mirror reported. “If the body is entangled on something beneath the water, it may never come back up. There's no way to really say. We're putting our best foot forward to try and locate her, we're using all the assets that are available to us, we're using technology like sonar,” the sergeant added. He also shared that the experts involved in the search know the lake “inside and out” and the police are “relying on their expertise to help us in that endeavor. We're going to do everything that we can to find her."

Sergeant Kevin Donoghue of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department speaks during a press conference at Lake Piru where actress Naya Rivera was reported missing
(Getty Images)

According to reports, risky conditions have made the search effort more difficult for rescuers. Officer Chris Dyer said the depth of the lake is not the same everywhere, as it goes from between 50-60ft to 4ft over a short distance. Also, there is reportedly a visibility issue as, during the daytime, it is possible for rescuers to see only about eight to 10 inches in the water, while sizeable debris, including trees, flow beneath the surface. Earlier, officer Dyer said they were “hopeful” but were “realistic” too about Rivera. “I think a tragic accident happened here and it breaks my heart. Not only am I helping search for Ms Rivera but I’m also a father, it really pains me that something that was meant to be so good and so fun, to come out here on the lake, went so bad,” he said, adding: “We’re presuming that an accident happened, we’re presuming that she drowned in the lake. There are no signs of foul play, no signs that anything went wrong besides a tragic accident. The goal is still to bring Ms Rivera home to her family so they can have some closure.”