Thousands sign petition demanding warning signs around Lake Piru after Naya Rivera’s death

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Thousands have signed an online petition calling for warning signs around Lake Piru after the death of 33-year-old “Glee” star Naya Rivera.

“Naya Rivera is not the first, nor the last to go missing at Lake Piru,” the petition reads. “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.”

The Change.org petition had garnered 38,800 signatures as of Tuesday morning, nearly doubling the number of signatures over the weekend.

“Tourist have no idea what they’re getting into. 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,” the petitioners wrote.

Rivera’s body was found in Lake Piru on Monday, days after she went missing during a boat trip with her 4-year-old son, who was discovered asleep on the Pontoon boat they rented earlier that day, Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said.

Crews from across the region converged on the lake after the actress went missing last Wednesday, with divers and sonar equipment scouring the waters. The search was made more difficult with low visibility beneath the surface.

Her body was eventually found in an area between 35 to 60 feet deep, with heavy brush and trees that officials believe may have concealed Rivera during the dayslong search.

“We believe it was mid-afternoon when she disappeared. The idea, perhaps, being that the boat started drifting — it was unanchored— and that she mustered enough energy to get her son back on the boat, but not enough to save herself,” the sheriff said.

The child told investigators that the pair had gone into the water for a swim, but after she helped him onto the boat, he looked back and saw she disappeared, according to the department. Her life vest was found on the boat.

Officials believe the star’s death was a “tragic accident.”

The Los Angeles Times had reported about a string drownings at Lake Piru between 1994 and 2000, but no one has drowned in the lake since 2010.

Water surface elevation levels at Lake Piru rising since February, 2020. (USGS via United Water Conservation District)
Water surface elevation levels at Lake Piru rising since February, 2020. (USGS via United Water Conservation District)

The deep lake can experience strong currents that can overtake swimmers and the Santa Felicia Dam can cause dangerous waves during windy conditions, officials said.

“This is a canyon that essentially they put a dam on and then flooded, many years ago, so it’s not like a naturally occurring lake, like a bowl that just has some sediment and rocks on the bottom… So, there is a flow to this lake,” Ventura County Sheriff’s Capt. Eric Buschow explained. “Every lake has a certain current, and then in the afternoons, you see how the wind builds up, comes up the canyon, so it pushes the surface water toward the back.”

Swimming is only allowed in designated swimming areas at Lake Piru, according to the United Water Conservation District’s policies.

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