TULARE, Calif. (KSEE) — Central Valley first responders joined the search for Naya Rivera Thursday.
The actress was best known for her role in Glee and is now presumed dead after going missing in a Los Angeles area lake Wednesday.
The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office sent 12 personnel down to help, nine of them, are certified divers. They also sent equipment Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said very few other agencies have.
“There’s a lot of focus and attention on trying to recover this person, but we would put as much energy into recovering anyone regardless of who that would be,” he said.
The 33-year-old was seen on security footage with her child Wednesday at the Lake Piru boat launch. She rented a pontoon and took off, several hours later a 911 call went out.
“We have a missing person. We found a little girl in one of the boats by herself and her mom is nowhere to be found,” the caller said.
The ‘little girl’ was actually Rivera’s 4-year-old son who was found floating on the boat.
“We’ve had no indication after talking to her son that Ms. Rivera made it to shore,” Sgt. Kevin Donaghue with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said.
Boudreaux said his agency has one of the leading Search and Rescue, Swift Water Rescue and dive teams in the nation, along with specialized equipment many others don’t have called side-scan sonar. A tool specifically requested by the sheriff’s office and is instrumental in the operation.
“The side-scan sonar will send different directional patterns under water and will hit on objects and will give a shape of a human body,” he said.
Boudreaux said the tool keeps divers out of dangerous waters and allows the search to continue after dark.
The plan is for his team to stay until a body is recovered or the mission is deemed over by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.
Boudreaux said along with helping another agency, he wants to be able to give Rivera’s loved ones peace of mind. He’s hoping to recover the body within the next 72 hours.
“My heart goes out to that family. My heart goes out to that young child, and so for all of us it’s a heart wrenching situation where we really want some closure for that family,” he said.