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'Glee' co-star Heather Morris asks to join search for Naya Rivera

The search for missing "Glee" actress Naya Rivera,

The search for missing "Glee" actress Naya Rivera, who authorities believe drowned in California's Lake Piru on Wednesday, continued on Sunday. Credit: Invision / AP / Dan Steinberg

LOS ANGELES — The search to find "Glee" TV show star Naya Rivera in a Southern California lake resumed on Sunday, authorities said, as former colleague Heather Morris sought to join the efforts.

The Ventura County Sheriff's Office said Thursday that they believe Rivera, 33, drowned in Lake Piru, northwest of Los Angeles. Her 4-year-old son, whom multiple outlets identified as Josey Dorsey, was discovered alone in a rented boat.

The boy, who was found asleep and wearing a life vest late Wednesday afternoon, told investigators that he and his mother went swimming and he got back on the boat, but "his mom never made it out of the water," Sheriff's Sgt. Kevin Donoghue said. An adult-size life preserver was found in the boat, along with Rivera's identification.

Also Sunday, Rivera's former "Glee" co-star Morris tweeted authorities to help join in the search. "I'm Nayas close friend and co-worker," wrote Morris, also 33, "and I'm trying to conduct an on foot search and rescue mission along with a small group of friends at Lake Piru. I understand your team is doing EVERYTHING in their power, but we are feeling helpless, powerless and want to help in any way. I have left a message with the department of Rescue and Air today, and I will call again." 

The Sheriff's office, which announced Sunday that authorities would search for Rivera around the cabins surrounding the lake, said by Sunday afternoon that the actress had not been found.

Ventura Sheriff's Sgt. Shannon King told People magazine that investigators had completed a search of the cabins, but “they’re not occupied." She added: "Nothing came of” the search.

“They were just doing the shoreline to make sure nothing has changed. There were a lot of folks that were talking on social media about, ‘Oh, check the cabins. Maybe she’s there, maybe she’s hanging out,’ ” King said. Searchers “did go to a couple of the cabins that were on the north end of the lake, that’s all that’s out there.”

The Sheriff's office also warned people wanting to help in the search: "For those intent on searching for Naya Rivera on your own, 1. The lake is closed. 2. Temps are already in the 90’s. 3. The terrain around the lake is very steep and rugged. Our teams are well equipped and highly trained. We don’t want to have to rescue you."

Divers, helicopters, drone aircraft and cadaver dogs have been trying to locate Rivera since her disappearance Wednesday. The Ventura Sheriff's Office also released underwater footage of the poor visibility conditions in the lake on Friday, which they reiterated the next day, when they said that search teams are also using sonar equipment to assist in the recovery mission. The depths of Lake Piru range from 10 to 90 feet, creating other challenges.

“Our goal is to bring the family closure,” Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Marta Bugarin told reporters. “It’s a traumatic time for them. They’re devastated, obviously."

Also on Saturday, Rivera's family paid a visit to the lake and took part in the search. Her ex-husband and father of Josey, actor Ryan Dorsey, was also in attendance. 

Several outlets published photos of Yolanda Rivera, the actress' mother, kneeling on the pier overlooking the lake from which the "Glee" star's rented boat launched on Wednesday. The mother's arms were spread wide in an emotional gesture as her son and Naya Rivera's brother, former NFL player Mychal Rivera, stood next to Yolanda.

In other images, Dorsey, 36, was seen entering the lake with Naya Rivera's father, George Rivera, on foot. Dorsey, who was married to the actress from 2014 until 2018, also appeared in photos visibly upset and crying along the lake's shore.

Rivera began acting at a young age, but she rose to national attention playing a lesbian teen on "Glee," which aired from 2009 until 2015 on Fox. Morris played Rivera's dimwitted cheerleading squad teammate.

With Newsday Staff

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