The search and recovery mission for Glee star Naya Rivera started her third day on Friday, fearing the actress might have drowned in Lake Piru after being pulled down from a hot tub.
The 33-year-old remains missing and is believed to be dead two days after she disappeared on a boat trip with her four-year-old son Josey, who was found alone on her rented pontoon boat with her life jacket on board.
The search is now treated as a sonar-salvage operation, as authorities believe Rivera may have drowned in the lake, where at least eight others have died since 1994, including nine-year-old Denise Arredondo, who was sucked under the surface by a hot tub.
The girl's cousin, Andrea Arredondo, 26, told The Sun that the actress may also have been pulled down on Wednesday by a vortex she described as "notorious" at the lake.
"I was very surprised by this information because I didn't even know that whirlpools were occurring in lakes," she said. "I really hope that's not why Naya hasn't reappeared, but it could be one of the ways."
Arredondo said Denise and her family swam on the lake on May 16, 2009 and had migrated to a flat area before she was suddenly dragged under water.
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Naya Rivera is still missing and is said to have died in a "tragic accident" with her four-year-old son Josey two days after she disappeared on a boat trip on Lake Piru
The search continued on Friday, with rescuers using "sophisticated sonar equipment" to find her body
Ventura County's sheriff department said Friday's mission uses fewer people to search, "but more technology to find better clues."
Denise Arredondo's cousin, who died on the same lake in 2009, said it is possible that Rivera was also attracted to a hot tub. Pictured: A sign on the lake warns visitors of the dangers of water
Ventura County Sheriff's Sergeant Kevin Donoghue said the recovery operation was "methodical" and the authorities had switched to using sonar equipment
Her father, who kept her younger siblings nearby, desperately tried to pull them out by holding on to her hair, but couldn't save his daughter, she said.
When the rescuers finally pulled Denise out of the lake, Arredondo said her body was "extremely unrecognizable" and something a young girl "should never testify".
The Ventura Sheriff & # 39; s Department confirmed that hot tubs on Lake Piru are possible and, according to The Sun, occur more often when the dams are open.
Arredondo strongly warned visitors and advised them to be "extremely careful" when visiting the picturesque lake.
"I definitely think that if they had put up warning signs since they drowned in the 90s, everyone else might have been saved," she said.
Swimming is permitted in designated areas of the lake. However, the directive states that it is a "dangerous pastime" because there are few lifeguards and the water is 5 to 40 feet deep.
There is at least one sign in the area around the lake that says “No swimming or wading. Danger – there are dangers! “However, the locals started a petition calling for additional signage to be installed.
The authorities have said that it is possible that Rivera's body "never reappears" if it is "involved in something under water".
Rivera's son told the authorities that he and his mother went swimming, but said they never made it out of the water. It is unclear how the boy was able to return to the boat alone and in which area she disappeared.
Searches were hampered by poor visibility in the water, which rescue workers say is cloudy and full of plants and debris. The police said it was possible that Rivera's body would "never show up again" if he was "involved in something under water".
Authorities resumed their efforts at dawn on Friday, this time using sophisticated sonar equipment to identify underwater targets.
"Now it's a little different in search and recovery mode," said Sgt Kevin Donoghue Fox LA. "Today we use a little less people to search, but more technology to find better clues."
Donoghue said that the operation is taking a "more methodical" approach because the missions need to be coordinated and not overlapping.
On Thursday, the authorities released CCTV footage of the actress and her son arriving at Lake Piru and boarding their pontoon boat hours before their disappearance on Wednesday.
Rivera drove to the dock in her Mercedes-Benz SUV at around 1 p.m. on Wednesday before boarding the boy on a rental boat and driving out into the lake.
The search for Rivera was suspended for a second night after dark on Thursday evening with no body to be seen.
Divers say the water is cloudy and full of plants and debris, which limits their visibility to less than a foot and forces them to use their hands on what crew member Max O & # 39; Brien called "Braille Search."
The Ventura County sheriff's office released CCTV footage showing Naya Rivera and her four-year-old son arriving at the dock on Lake Piru on Wednesday
The two got into their pontoon boat rentals before going into the lake around 1pm
Eagle-eye viewers spotted a jet ski driving past Rivera's boat, believing to have information about the star's last moments before it disappeared
The broken-hearted ex-husband who misses Naya Rivera consoles his little son for the first time, just a day after the Glee actress disappeared from a California lake where she had taken the four-year-old boat
This diagram shows where Naya Rivera and her son rented a boat on Lake Piru before the four-year-old was seen alone. The map at the top left shows the location of the lake in relation to Los Angeles, where Rivera lives
Four-year-old Josey has now returned to his family and was pictured yesterday in the arms of his father, Rivera's ex-husband Ryan Dorsey, 36.
Along with the surveillance material, the police also shared the boat rental emergency call at 4:37 p.m. when Rivera was reported missing for the first time.
The caller had apparently been sent to check on Rivera and her son after the actress failed to return the rental boat at the expected time.
The caller confused four-year-old Josey with a girl and said they had "found a little girl in one of the boats at the southern end" and added "the mother is nowhere to be found".
The dispatcher asked about the child's age and ethnicity, but the caller still had to see the toddler up close and was asked to collect more information before calling back.
Rivera and her son rented the boat around 1 p.m. before sailing into the lake, which was about 100 km from the actress' house in Los Angeles.
Swimming is permitted in some parts of the lake, and authorities say that "there are really no strong undercurrents like in the ocean", but warn that the cold water could cause hypothermia.
The lake's policy states that those who want to go swimming do so at their own risk, as this is considered a "dangerous pastime" because there are not many lifeguards on the ground.
It is not exactly clear where the boat was discovered or where Rivera and her son were when they jumped in, but the search focuses on the northern part of the lake in an area where the water is about 30 feet deep.
The clip shows the couple walking over to get help with boat rentals and being led to their future ship
The footage shows Rivera and her son take off on the pontoon boat
The boat can be seen north in the reservoir and would not be seen for several hours
Later, after finding the toddler, the investigators learned that Naya and Josey had both gone into the water to swim, but only Josey had climbed back on board.
How this happened is not clear, and the police admitted on Wednesday evening that interviewing a four-year-old was "somewhat challenging".
Max O & # 39; Brien told reporters that the operation had become a "braille search" that forced divers to "feel" their surroundings.
"He gave investigators enough information to conclude that his mother never made it out of the water," said Sgt Kevin Donoghue.
Captain Eric Buschow told ABC that it had remained a mystery how Naya had disappeared and speculated that she "could have had a medical episode" while playing "innocently" in the water. He added that the investigators who interviewed the boy "wanted to limit the extent of the trauma" that Josey is facing.
Divers and helicopters roamed the lake until nightfall on Wednesday, continuing their search all Thursday with rescue workers using sonar equipment.
Two German shepherd dogs from the California Rescue Dog Association were also added to the growing search group for Rivera Ventura County Star Reports.
They are trained to recognize gases released by human corpses, search along a lattice of the lake, and help divers possibly locate Rivera's body.
The search for the Glee star resumed at dawn on Thursday, but a statement from the sheriff's office said it was a "recovery mission" that the authorities no longer hope Rivera is alive with.
"Investigators believe Rivera drowned in a tragic accident," the sheriff's office said after the four-year-old told them his mother hadn't returned to the coast. There is no suspicion of foul play.
Sgt. Bill Hutton described the search as "very technical" and added that GPS data from the search was analyzed overnight while conditions were too difficult to dive.
Authorities are planning to release footage to show how difficult some of the search conditions were.
The glee star and her son Josey rented a pontoon boat on Lake Piru on Wednesday afternoon, but another boat driver warned three hours later
Sgt. Kevin Donoghue of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office at Lake Piru said that more than 100 police officers and first aiders are now looking for Naya's body.
Donoghue told reporters that the rescuers were concentrating on the northern half of the lake, "in the hope of finding clues or evidence of their disappearance."
"Our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this terrible time and we hope to bring them to a close," he said.
Donoghue warned that it could take weeks for the body to be found if it was recovered. He said, "If the body is involved in something under the water, it may never show up again."
He added: "There is no way to really say that. We do our best to find them. We use all the resources that are available to us. We use technologies like sonar. & # 39;
According to Donoghue, the experts involved in the search know the lake inside and out and added: “We rely on their expertise to support us in this endeavor. We will do everything we can to find them. & # 39;
Into darkness: The search for Naya Rivera continued until darkness fell on Lake Piru, until it was suspended for a second day in a row without a trace of the Glee star being found
Rescuers are sailing on the lake when the light faded last night. The authorities are now saying that they are involved in a "salvage operation" and believe that Naya Rivera has died in a "tragic accident".
A patrol boat on the shores of Lake Piru on the second day of the search for Naya Rivera, which was last seen on Wednesday when she rented a pontoon boat with her four-year-old son Josey
The so-called salvage mission involved helicopters from the Sheriff's Office and the US Coast Guard, as well as several diving teams that operated from six boats.
The depth of the lake is very varied, said officer Chris Dyer, saying that he can walk a short distance of 50-60 feet to 4 feet.
The visibility in the lake is around 20 to 40 cm during the day, while considerable debris, including trees, flows beneath the surface, the police said.
"The difficult conditions have made the recovery operation a very slow process," said the sheriff's office, saying the conditions were too dangerous to continue the search overnight after some criticized the break.
More than 100 rescuers are at the lake, trying to find Rivera. Several diving teams search the murky depths while two helicopters continue to scour the waves from above.
The task was made difficult by rising winds, with the surface becoming choppy.
A diver, Max O & # 39; Brien, told reporters that the operation had become a "braille search" in which divers were forced to "feel" their surroundings because of limited visibility.
"There are a lot of branches and overgrowth from when the lake was lower, so we break through sticks and look for a heavy brush floor," he said.
Two German shepherds from the California Rescue Dog Association have also been added to the growing search group for Rivera, the Ventura County Star reports
A rescuer with a life jacket stands on the edge of a boat on Lake Piru, while the search continued unsuccessfully on Thursday
A helicopter from Ventura County's sheriff department took part in the search yesterday. Additional aircraft were also delivered by the U.S. Coast Guard
The small ship that Naya used is attached to the dock and is marked with a yellow police tape. Sgt. Donoghue said her handbag and ID were found next to her son.
There was also a life jacket on board and her son wore a second life jacket.
"We know that she has been to this lake before and is familiar with it, but we are not sure whether her son was here," he added.
He said the officials were in constant contact with the actress' family. "As far as we understand, her son is physically well," he said. "As far as I know, he told investigators that his mother never made it out of the water."
At least eight people have drowned in the lake since 1994, including a father who died in 2008 after rescuing his daughter who fell into the water.
Naftoli Smolyanksy, 39, jumped into the water to save her and was able to put her back on the boat, but then drowned in the water as it raced away from him.
Rivera's alleged death has caused trouble for the locals, who have petitioned for more than 18,000 signatures to have warning signs installed around the lake.
& # 39; Naya Rivera is neither the first nor the last to be missed at Lake Piru. Piru Lake is a very deep lake with very bad swirls. For years people have been asking the city to put up warning signs for swimmers, ”it says.
On the second day of the search, search and rescue workers leave the pier on Lake Piru in the Los Padres National Forest
An emergency vehicle on the shores of Lake Piru on the second day yesterday looking for the missing actress Naya Rivera
The dogs are trained to recognize gases released by human corpses. They do a search along a sea lattice and help divers possibly locate the Rivera's body
An emergency vehicle near the pear on Lake Piru yesterday, behind a sign warning visitors of the dangers of swimming or wading in the water. The police say it is allowed to swim from a boat
“Locals from Ventura County don't go to Lake Piru for this reason! Tourists have no idea what they're getting into. The Piru Lake needs signs. We are fed up with waiting. We need justice for everyone who got lost on Lake Piru. Put up the signs. & # 39;
The 911 calls the boat rental company and incorrectly names Naya Rivera's son a girl when he reports the missing actress
The Ventura Sheriff & # 39; s Department released audio of the emergency call made Wednesday by boat rentals on Lake Piru after a staff member found that Naya Rivera and her son had not returned.
In the call, the operator first found that a girl was left alone in the boat and added that she wasn't really there to see her.
Employee: & # 39; Lake Piru, the emergency is that we have a missing person. We found a little girl in one of the boats at the southern end, the mother is nowhere to be found. & # 39;
dispatcher: & # 39; Okay, Lake Piru … Okay and is it white, black, Asian or Spanish? & # 39;
Employee: & # 39; I have no idea, I'm going down to check. My husband was one of the people who came first and I will get more information. He just told me to call it. & # 39;
dispatcher: & # 39; Okay … Do you know if it's a boy or a girl? & # 39;
Employee: & # 39; I think it's a little girl. & # 39;
dispatcher: & # 39; Approximate Age? & # 39;
Employee: & # 39; As I said, I have no idea. I'm just going down there. Should I call it back when I'm there? & # 39;
dispatcher: & # 39; I will insert the little information I have, but yes, when you get there you can call us back. & # 39;
Lake Piru reopened on July 1 after a number of campsites and leisure facilities in Los Padres National were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The lake, technically a reservoir, belongs to the United Water Conservation District, which offers "a range of boat rentals from small V-hull fishing boats to a party pontoon boat for the family".
A policy document warns that swimmers "practice dangerous leisure activities and do so at their own risk". Young children must wear life jackets, while adults are encouraged to wear them, but this is not required.
Piru Lake is closed as the search continues, and its owners say "our thoughts are with Naya Rivera's family and friends in this difficult time".
Josey's father Ryan Dorsey was discovered holding the boy in his arms when they left Naya's sister, model Nickayla Rivera's, house in Valencia, California on Thursday.
Dorsey, who has shared custody of his son after divorcing Glee star Naya in June 2018, was visibly upset earlier in the day when he woke up to the reality of what is happening.
Dorsey's roommate in Los Angeles told DailyMail.com that Dorsey immediately went to the popular tourist spot as soon as he was told that her son was found alone on a pontoon boat.
The roommate, who didn't want to be named, said, “Ryan went up there as soon as it was found that his son was taking care of him. When I got home on Wednesday, he was already gone. & # 39;
It is not clear whether Rivera had driven from her LA home or lived somewhere closer to the lake.
Rivera last posted on social media on July 7 and shared a touching photo of her with Josey. "Only the two of us," she wrote as a caption.
A source near the star told PEOPLE Magazine Thursday that Rivera appeared to be "happy", "busy" and "just a kind of life" in the weeks before their disappearance.
"Everyone is waiting and trying to find out what exactly happened," said the source.
& # 39; your son comes first. This can be seen in everything she posted and did. It's all about her son, "said the source of the outlet, adding," Everyone is incredulous. "
The actress played in Glee from 2009 to 2015 and played high school cheerleader Santana Lopez in all six seasons of the popular series.
Naya welcomed son Josey in 2015 with her then husband Dorsey. She called her little son "my greatest success and I will never do better than him" in her 2016 memoir "Sorry Not Sorry".
Rivera's former Glee co-star Demi Lovato was one of those who raised hope last night and said on Twitter she still hoped Naya would be found alive.
"I don't tweet often, but sometimes my tweets come true. Let's show on Twitter that Naya is found safe and healthy !! Come on! Let's use that energy out there: you'll find it healthy and alive, ”she said.
Heather Morris, another former Glee co-star, praised the Californian authorities last night for "now working tirelessly to find and recover our naya."
Morris previously said after hearing about Rivera's disappearance, "We need all the prayers we can get to bring our naya back to us … we need your love and your light."