Police confirm there have been prior drownings on the lake

By Georgia Slater
July 10, 2020 02:12 PM
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A petition has been created urging officials to post warning signs for swimmers at the California lake where Naya Rivera went missing Wednesday afternoon.

One day after the Glee actress disappeared, a Change.org petition was started to put up signs at Lake Piru to warn swimmers of its dangerous conditions.

"Naya Rivera is not the first, nor the last to go missing at Lake Piru," Erin Jordan, the petition's creator, wrote in the description. "Lake Piru is a very deep lake with very bad whirlpools, people have been asking for years for the city to put up warning signs for swimmers."

Jordan noted that "locals of Ventura County," where the lake is located, don't visit the body of water because of its conditions, and many tourists are unaware of its dangers.

"Lake Piru needs signs. We’re tired of waiting. We need justice for all those who got lost at Lake Piru. Put up the signs," Jordan concluded.

In an update to the petition, Jordan asserted that "lake officials need to stop blaming people for not wearing jackets and need to take responsibilities," adding that the lake "needs to be shut down."

Gabe LHeureux/ Getty. Inset:

In one day, the petition has reached over 20,500 signatures.

According to the Los Angeles Times, about seven people drowned in Lake Piru between 1994 and 2000. And Douglas West, Lake Piru’s parks and recreation services manager at the time of the 2000 article, counted about a dozen drownings during his 23 years there. The Times noted that "most drowning victims were swimmers venturing into restricted waters."

Ricardo DeAratanha/Getty Images

Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Kevin Donoghue confirmed to PEOPLE that there have been prior drownings on the lake.

Rivera, 33, was reported missing after a trip to the 1,200-acre lake with her son Josey Dorsey, 4. The pair rented a pontoon boat and were swimming in the water when Rivera disappeared.

Josey told investigators that Rivera did not get back into the boat after they had both been swimming, according to an incident report from the Ventura County Sheriff's Office.

Park officials have previously noted that strong winds, chilly waters and the lake’s depth (160 ft) are often to blame in such incidents. "This area is notorious for the winds," Donoghue said of the lake.

After the boat was overdue for return after the three-hour rental, staff at the lake's concession stand found it at the north side of the body of water, with Josey sleeping aboard.

Naya Rivera and son Josey
Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images

The search for Rivera has shifted from a rescue mission to a recovery one, with the star presumed dead. Donoghue said they found an adult life jacket on board the boat, but they weren’t confident if it belonged to Rivera or if it was an extra vest.

“Nobody has heard anything,” a source, who was close to the actress during her time on the hit FOX series, told PEOPLE on Thursday. “Everybody is in a wait-and-see pattern and trying to figure out exactly what happened.”