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Search for Naya Rivera continues as teams double-check cabins around Lake Piru

Actress Naya Rivera, who is believed to have drowned.
Naya Rivera is believed to have drowned while boating with her young son in Ventura County.
(Taylor Jewell / Associated Press)

Authorities are continuing to search for the body of actress Naya Rivera, who is believed to have drowned Wednesday afternoon while boating with her young son on Lake Piru in Ventura County.

Search teams on Sunday were checking cabins and outbuildings surrounding the lake, as well as the shoreline, officials said. All of those areas were already searched the afternoon Rivera went missing, they said.

“They’re just doubling back and checking those areas one more time to be sure, but there’s no indication that she got out of the water,” said Capt. Eric Buschow of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.

Divers, helicopters, drone aircraft and cadaver dogs have been trying to find Rivera for five days. The 33-year-old actress, who gained fame for her role on “Glee,” was reported missing Wednesday after her 4-year-old son was found in a rental boat on the lake by himself.

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Sheriff’s officials said the boy was found asleep on the boat, wearing his life vest. They later learned that Rivera and her son were swimming together in the lake and that he was able to get back on the boat, but she had not.

On Thursday, crews transitioned from rescue to recovery efforts, officials said.

The protracted, high-profile search has drawn an enormous amount of interest from the public, prompting officials to warn people not to try to assist with the efforts.

That came after the Sheriff’s Department received multiple phone calls, and saw social media posts, that people were organizing independent search parties, Buschow said.

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“We’re just cautioning people against it,” he said. “I think anybody that goes up there will quickly realize it’s not a friendly environment to be out there searching.”

He noted that the lake sat in a steep canyon and was surrounded by inhospitable terrain, and that temperatures were already in the 90s Sunday morning and set to rise as the day went on. Most people lack the proper training and equipment to carry out such a search, and they don’t adhere to the methodical protocols used by authorities, he said.

“The concern, and it’s happened before, is where people show up and go off on their own, then get themselves into trouble, whether it’s heat exhaustion or dehydration … and now we have to deviate resources away from searching to rescuing them,” he said. “They become more part of the problem than part of the solution, and that’s what we don’t want.”

Times staff writers Jake Sheridan and Alejandra Reyes-Velarde contributed to this report.


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