Naya Rivera: Glee star's son, four, tells police he saw mother disappear beneath water

Naya Rivera is presumed dead by authorities after she went missing on Wednesday while on a rented boat with her four-year-old son Josey Hollis. Credit: AP

Naya Rivera’s four-year-old son told police he watched her disappear beneath the water at the lake she is feared to have drowned at in California, an officer has said.

There is no evidence to suggest the former Glee actress, 33, left Lake Piru, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office sergeant Kevin Donoghue said.

She is presumed dead by authorities after she went missing on Wednesday while on a rented boat with her four-year-old son Josey Hollis.

Sgt Donoghue said: “Our first day was a rescue effort, it was a life saving effort. We searched with people on the ground, on the shoreline. We were looking not just for her physically, we were looking for any clues, any evidence that suggested she made it to shore.

“We didn’t find any clues, any evidence that suggested she made it to shore. The most conclusive piece of evidence we’re really holding on to right now is the statements from her son, the only witness.

“He observed his mother disappear beneath the water so we are very confident she is in the water and that at some point in time we will recover her from the lake.”

The search was resumed for missing Glee actress Naya Rivera. Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

He was speaking in response to an online petition which has attracted almost 25,000 signatures, demanding the search be extended beyond the lake.

Police said a huge search operation was launched, but the actress was not found.

It resumed on Thursday morning and officers gave a grim update shortly afterwards.

Officer Chris Dyer said: “The latest is that we’re switching efforts into a search and recovery operation.

"That doesn’t change anything in the efforts that we’re putting forth to locate her but it changes the title, in a sense.

Lake Piru in California Credit: Keiran Southern/PA

“We’re presuming that an accident happened, we’re presuming that she drowned in the lake.

"There are no signs of foul play, no signs that anything went wrong besides a tragic accident.”

Mr Dyer added: “The goal is still to bring Ms Rivera home to her family so they can have some closure.”

The alarm was raised after Rivera, best known for playing high school cheerleader Santana Lopez on musical comedy series Glee, failed to return the boat, which was found drifting with the child sleeping alone on board.

The search for Rivera resumed at daybreak on Thursday, with helicopters, boats, divers and sonar teams expected to be involved.

Actress Naya Rivera went missing after taking this rented boat out on Lake Piru in Southern California Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

The lake varies in depth greatly, Mr Dyer said, saying it can go from between 50-60ft to 4ft over a short distance.

Visibility in the lake during the daytime is about eight to 10 inches, while sizeable debris including trees flow beneath the surface, Mr Dyer said.

Rivera had visited the popular lake previously, the police said. The focus of the search is the northern end of the lake.

The actress earned significant success starring in Glee and the California-born star followed it up with her feature film debut in 2014 horror film At The Devil’s Door.

She later had a role in the Lifetime TV series Devious Maids.