The body of Glee star Naya Rivera was found on Monday at a Southern California lake after she went missing on 8th July.
Ventura County Sheriff’s officials confirmed at news conference that the body search crews found her floating in the northeast corner of Lake Piru.
33-year-old, Naya Rivera’s 4-year-old son told investigators that his mother boosted him back on to the deck of their rented boat before he looked back and saw her disappearing under the water.
“She must have mustered enough energy to get her son back on the boat, but not enough to save herself,” Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said at a news conference.
The boy, Josey Hollis Dorsey, was found asleep and alone in a life vest on the drifting pontoon boat about three hours after they launched on the lake, setting off a five-day search.
The mother and son had gone swimming, which was permitted in that part of the lake. She was not wearing a life vest.
Authorities believe that Rivera drowned accidentally, and that her body was most likely trapped in the vegetation under the lake for several days before floating to the top.
The lake is an hour’s drive from Los Angeles. Search teams deployed sonar and robotic devices to comb the bottom and helicopters and drones searching above.
The family members chatted with Rivera via FaceTime when she was on the boat, and search crews watched those videos for clues to where she might have gone down.
The body was flown 64km to the coroner’s office in Ventura, where an autopsy would be conducted, Sheriff’s Captain Eric Buschow said.
Rivera’s son from her marriage to actor Ryan Dorsey, was safe and healthy and with family members.
Who is Naya Rivera?
Rivera began acting at a young age, but she rose to national attention playing a lesbian teen on Glee, which aired from 2009 until 2015 on Fox.
She is survived by her parents, Yolanda and George; a younger brother, Mychal; a sister, Nickayla; and her 4-year-old son.
A native of Santa Clarita, California, Rivera began acting at 4, appearing in such series as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Matters and The Bernie Mac Show.
Third major cast member from the show to die in their 30s
Rivera played singing cheerleader Santana Lopez for six seasons on the Fox musical-comedy Glee.
Cory Monteith, one of the show’s leads, died at 31 in 2013 from a toxic mix of alcohol and heroin. And co-star Mark Salling, who Rivera dated at one point, killed himself in 2018 at age 35 after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.
“Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were,” wrote Glee co-star Jane Lynch on Twitter. Steven Canals, who co-created and produced the FX television show Pose, tweeted that he was “heartbroken over all the stories that will remain untold”.
Viola Davis sent her prayers to Rivera’s family and Kristin Chenoweth said: “Thank you for what you gave the world.” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that “as a Latina, it’s rare to have a rich, complex characters reflect us in media”.