Son reveals Glee star’s final moments on lake
Tragic details have been revealed about the death of Naya Rivera, whose body was found in a Californian lake today.
The Glee star's body was found in Lake Piru, six days after she vanished after renting a boat with her four-year-old son and going swimming.
"Based on the location where the body was found, physical characteristics of the body, clothing found on the body and the physical condition of the body, as well as the absence of any other persons reported missing in the area, we are confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera," the Ventura County Sheriff said at a press conference this morning.
Rivera rented a pontoon boat on the lake, which lies inland 100km northeast of Los Angeles, at about 1pm last Wednesday with her son, Josey Hollis Dorsey.
"We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point during their journey," the sheriff said today. "It was during that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water."
Police have speculated that Rivera saved her son when the pair got caught in a current while swimming.
"There are a lot of currents on the lake that appear particular in the afternoon," the sheriff said. "We believe it was midafternoon when she disappeared. The idea being perhaps that the boat started drifting, it was unanchored, and that she mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat but not enough to save herself."
When the boat was late to return to the rental company, a leasing agent went searching and found Rivera's son asleep on board as the boat was adrift on the lake.
Rivera's body was found today in the same area where she went missing. It floated to the surface of the water after the body filled with gas due to decomposition.
"Detectives from our major crimes bureau began working this case from the onset," the sheriff said. "Their work on this case revealed there was no indication of foul play and no indication this was a suicide."
Rivera's body has been taken to the medical examiner's office for an autopsy and her dental records will be examined to provide a positive identification.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY MOURN
Heather Morris, who played Rivera's love interest on Glee, joined the star's family members at the lake.
A photo shows Morris and several other Glee stars holding hands and looking out onto the lake where Rivera went missing.
"It has been an extremely difficult time for her family throughout this ordeal," the sheriff said today. "Our hearts are with them and we share in their grief for Naya's loss."
A body has been found at Lake Piru this morning. The recovery is in progress. There will be a news conference at 2 pm at the lake— Ventura Co. Sheriff (@VENTURASHERIFF) July 13, 2020
The news came 12 hours after the day's search for Naya concluded on what was the fifth day of the search and recovery effort.
Monday's search operation was reported to be scaled back from previous days, with only around 20 divers scouring the water and shoreline in the northern section of the lake, the LA Times reported.
About 50 sheriff's personnel, along with a helicopter, boat crews, divers, and unmanned aerial vehicles searched the lake for five hours on Wednesday evening. However, the murky water full of plants and debris hampered searchers.
The search resumed on Thursday with the help of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the US Coast Guard officers.
By the afternoon of the next day the Sheriff announced there was no hope of finding Rivera alive and the rescue mission was now a recovery operation.
It's feared Rivera may have been caught in the lake's notoriously strong currents and become entangled in something below the surface.
At least eight people have drowned in Lake Piru over the last 25 years,
Ventura County Sheriff's Captain Eric Buschow said Rivera had drowned in what appeared to be "a tragic accident".
"We're going on the belief that she did go in the water and we have not been able to locate her," he said.
"So this may well be a case of drowning."
Rivera played high school cheerleader Santana Lopez in the Fox television series Glee between 2009 and 2015, appearing in 113 episodes.
She gave birth to her son while married to actor Ryan Dorsey, before the couple divorced in 2018.
In her 2016 memoir Sorry Not Sorry, she called her son "my greatest success, and I will never do any better than him".
As Rivera's fellow former Glee co-stars, such as Heather Morris, prayed for her safe return this week, some cited the so-called Glee "curse" which has seen two other Glee stars die tragically.
Cory Monteith overdosed on heroin and alcohol in a hotel room in 2013 and, five years later, Mark Sailing took his own life after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.
Originally published as Glee star's body found in lake