Glee fans honour Naya Rivera as officials say actor is presumed dead having likely ‘drowned in tragic accident’

Naya Rivera with her four-year-old son, Josey Hollis

Naya Rivera is now presumed dead after police confirmed efforts to find her have now been classed as a “search and recovery operation”.

Glee star Naya Rivera, known for playing the sultry, sassy cheerleader-turned-singer Santana Lopez, was reported missing Wednesday night (July 8).

The 33-year-old, who starred across all six seasons of the Fox series, rented a boat in Lake Piru, California on Wednesday at around 1pm, and spent the afternoon swimming with her four-year-old son, Josey Hollis.

A boater found Hollis by the boat at 4pm, asleep and alone, with Rivera no where to be found. Her car was discovered near the lake, around 60 miles north-west of downtown Los Angeles.

According to captain Eric Buschow of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office: “Investigators believe Rivera drowned in what appears to be a tragic accident.”

Naya Rivera search continues as officials warn she may never be found in lake.

The search for Naya Rivera was called off at 10pm on Wednesday night “due to zero visibility in the water and dangerous conditions for the divers”.

It was resumed on Thursday morning, but divers still experienced less than a foot of visibility which, he said, has “made the recovery operation a very slow process”.

A Ventura County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson told Sky News: “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 including technology like sonar.”

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been called in to help with the search, providing divers and sonar equipment, and resources from other neighbouring counties and the United States Coast Guard are also being used.

As of Thursday, around 100 personnel were participating in the search and recovery mission.

LGBT+ community honours the Glee star online.

The LGBT+ community has taken to social media to honour Rivera, and how much her queer Glee character Santana Lopez meant to them.

One wrote: “As a closeted queer kid, Santana is the only representation I remember having.

“Naya Rivera was so so important to me. I know I’m not alone, and I hope she knew how many people felt this way.

“I’ve been looking for words all day, but this is all I have for now. Just… devastated.”

Another wrote: “I don’t think I realised how much I benefitted from Naya Rivera’s portrayal of a confident queer woman in one of my favourite shows – until she was taken too soon from us.

“Thank you, I am who I am because of Santana Lopez.”