TWO “human remains detection” dogs have been enlisted in the grim search for Glee star Naya Rivera who vanished while riding a boat with her four-year-old son on California's Lake Piru.
The “highly qualified” German Shepherds, trained to detect gasses emitting from human cadavers, joined the recovery mission on Thursday evening.
They are undertaking a search along a grid of the lake and potentially lead divers to Rivera’s body, according to the California Rescue Dog Association.
The non-profit agency, which trains and deploys search dog teams to assist law enforcement and other public safety agencies in the search for missing persons, confirmed on Friday that “two CARDA water HRD canines have been deployed to assist in this search”.
Rivera, 33, is presumed dead after mysteriously disappearing from the area on Wednesday, according to authorities.
“This is considered to be a horrible accident,” an official with the Sheriff’s Office said as a recovery effort continued on Thursday, KNBC reports.
Josey was found alone sleeping on the adrift pontoon boat three hours after he and his mother set out on the water together around 1pm.
The little boy was spotted shortly before 5pm by a boat rental company worker, who alerted authorities.
Rescuers reached the little boy soon after with sources telling TMZ the child said that his mother had "jumped into the water but didn't come back up".
Her life jacket was reportedly still in the boat and Josey was asleep when the vessel was first found.
Divers searched the lake until nightfall, but were unable to find the actress, who stared in 113 episodes of the hit musical series from 2009 to 2015.
The Ventura County Sheriff's Office said at a Thursday morning press conference that this "may well be a case of drowning".
"We’re continuing the search today for Naya Rivera today. We have a lot of assets helping with the search," Sheriff's Deputy Chris Dyer said.
"We have Ventura County Sheriff Search and Rescue, Ventura County Fire, Los Angeles County Dive Operations, Ventura County Aviation, and drones as well.
"We’re still hoping to find her alive. It’s a search and rescue mission. We’re searching the water and the shoreline."
Earlier on Thursday Ventura County Sheriff Captain Eric Buschow told The Sun: "The search continues this morning with dive teams assisting us. This is an ongoing search operation that could last several days."
The Lake Piru Recreation Area, located about 55 miles northwest of Los Angeles, reopened on July 1 with limited activities because of the coronavirus, features boat rentals and kayak and paddle boarding.
Lake Piru, a 1,200-acre reservoir with a 12-mile shoreline in Los Padres National Forest, has been the site of numerous drownings over the years. The 160ft deep lake holds deep columns of chilly water that can overwhelm people, the LA Times reports.
The tragic deaths include that of LA man Naftoli Smolyansky, 39, who drowned after saving his five-year-old daughter who had fallen in.
Smolyansky was with his children the lake when his daughter fell off the boat, according to reports.
Steve White, one time Ventura State Beach lifeguard supervisor, described the perils of the lake.
“Someone will come to the beach, maybe wade out a little, step into a deeper hole or get picked up in a rip current and they begin to panic,” he said.
Rivera, who starred as cheerleader Santana Lopez in "Glee", has experienced challenges in her personal life following the end of the award-winning show.
In 2017, the actress was arrested and charged with domestic battery after allegedly assaulting her actor ex-husband Ryan Dorsey – who stars in the hit crime drama Ray Donovan – in an argument over their child.
The charge was dropped after Ryan told prosecutors he no longer wanted to proceed with the case. The pair divorced in 2018.
Two days before she went missing , Rivera posted a heartbreaking final picture of her and Josey with the words “just the two of us”. He is now safe with family members.
Rivera started acting as a four-year-old on the CBS sitcom “The Royal Family” and made guest appearances on a number of shows, including “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Family Matters” and “Baywatch”.
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