Naya Rivera sent a photo of her four-year-old son Josey to a family member 90 minutes before he was found on their pontoon boat that shows the cove they’d sailed to
Police say it appears Naya Rivera ‘mustered enough energy to get her son back on the boat, but not enough to save herself’ after confirming the body of Glee star was found Lake Piru Monday.
Rivera went missing on Wednesday afternoon during a boat day with her four-year-old son Josey. He was found asleep in his life jacket on their pontoon but there was no trace of the 33-year-old former Glee star.
Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said at a news conference Monday afternoon: ‘She must have mustered enough energy to get her son back on the boat, but not enough to save herself.’
She and her son had climbed off the boat and gone swimming. The boy told investigators that his mother ‘boosted him’ back aboard but when he looked back he saw her disappear into the water, Ayub said.
Earlier on Monday, the Ventura County Sheriff announced that a body had been pulled from the water.
Ayub said that while an autopsy and official identification are forthcoming, the circumstances from the location of the body to the fact that no one else has been reported missing in the lake makes the department ‘confident that the body we found is Naya Rivera.’
He said there was no indication of foul play and no indication this was a suicide. Ayub confirmed an adult life jacket was on board the boat and that the body recovered was not in a life jacket. He did not have details on if Rivera was able to swim.
Ayub said swimming is allowed in the lake but that it is typically used for watercraft recreation. A petition was started Monday to ban swimming ‘in these dangerous waters’.
Captain Eric Buschow confirmed on Monday afternoon that it was Rivera’s and that the family had been informed. ‘This hits home for everybody involved. We’re in the business of saving people… it’s hard for everybody involved,’ he said.
He added that he hoped the discovery would bring some closure to her family.
‘Finding out she’s missing and then this day to day, the wait and not knowing… hopefully this provides some level of closure,’ he said.
The actress’s family rushed to the lake on Monday morning and some of her Glee castmates, including Heather Morris, were also there.
They held hands on the shore while waiting for more information from the star’s family and from the authorities. Rivera was found on the seventh anniversary of Naya’s former co-star Cory Monteith’s death.
Rivera vanished on Wednesday on Lake Piru after taking a pontoon boat out on the water with her four-year-old son Josey.
A Ventura police officer told DailyMail.com it was ‘gut-wrenching’ and ‘devastating’ to see the family’s grief.
Some of Rivera’s Glee castmates went to the lake on Monday morning after authorities recovered a body. They held hands on the shore while waiting for confirmation of the identity of the body
Actress Heather Morris was among those there. She appeared on Glee (right) with Rivera
Morris was comforted by a male friend at the lake as the group waited for news from the authorities
Rivera’s ex husband Ryan Dorsey, right, was at the lake on Monday with her father George Rivera
Nia Rivera’s mother Yolanda Rivera is seen leaving the landing jetty at Lake Piru escorted by Ventura County sheriffs
Authorities carry the body of Naya Rivera from a boat on Monday morning to be taken for formal identification
The actress’s body was placed in a van to be driven away from the scene for further examination
The star’s body was brought in from the lake by boat early on Monday morning. Authorities concealed it beneath orange tarp
The body is now being stored in one of the structures near to where Rivera parked her jeep on Wednesday
Divers return to shore on Monday morning after recovering Rivera’s body from the lake
One of the patrol boats that searched for Rivera on Monday morning
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office released CCTV footage showing Naya Rivera and her four-year-old son arriving at the dock on Lake Piru on Wednesday
The pair climbed onto their pontoon boat rental before heading out into the lake at around 1pm
The family were pictured on Saturday stricken with grief, running fully clothed into the lake and splashing the water on their faces, as search and rescue teams armed with sonar equipment and sniffer dogs scoured its murky bed.
Last week one of the dive team explained to DailyMail.com that gases released from a corpse decomposing underwater would cause it to rise up to the surface, usually after four to seven days unless it was caught on branches or tangled in vegetation underwater.
Police said the county’s medical examiner has been called, and will take the body back to their office to be officially identified and to perform an autopsy.
The Sheriff’s Department would not release any further details about the body.
On Monday, they honed in on a cove where the actress had taken a photograph of Josey and sent it to a relative 90 minutes before he was found on the boat.
Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub holds a news conference Monday afternoom after announcing via Twitter that a body has been found at Lake Piru
They focused their search on that cove on Monday.
The actress grew up 20 miles from the lake and was familiar with it, police sources said last week.
She thought of it as her ‘sanctuary’, despite it being known for rip currents and icy waters that can overpower swimmers.
A press conference about Monday’s discovery has been scheduled for 2pm local time.
On Sunday, Naya’s distraught family were seen at the lake trying to assist investigators in their search for her.
Josey told police that his mother ‘jumped in’ and never came back up to the surface.
He was wearing a life jacket but the actress’s was on the pontoon when it was recovered.
‘There was a picture sent to a family member that showed the boy on the boat by a cove. We found where that cove was,’ Robert Inglis of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue Team told Us Weekly.
He previously said: ‘What I suspect is that the winds kicked up.
‘Those pontoon boats are very light, and when you push them, it can get away from you. She might’ve tried to swim after the boat. But that’s all speculation. Once we do locate her, that’ll answer a lot more questions.’
Police have not shared the image and it’s unclear which cove it was taken in. Over the weekend, they asked members of the public not to go looking for the star themselves in the dangerous water.
The actress’s father George on Sunday appeared to help co-ordinate the hunt for his missing daughter after police confirmed ‘nothing came’ of their search of cabins along Lake Piru.
Naya Rivera’s father George Rivera sat alongside his former son-in-law, Jose’s father Ryan Dorsey, on Sunday as search teams continued to look for her
Ventura County Sherifff’s rescue team at Lake Piru in California on July 13, 2020
On Sunday, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office had announced that cabins on the banks of the lake would be searched after social media users theorized that Rivera could have ended up in one.
But Sgt. Shannon King later told People: ‘They’re not occupied. Nothing came of it. There’s no evidence to say she left the water. It appears to be 100 percent just a tragic drowning.’
The lake itself is 1,200 acres and can reach depths of up to 130 feet.
In it, authorities point to a barely visible tree limb highlighting the challenges divers are facing in trying to find the missing mother-of-one.
With almost zero visibility, human divers are resorting to searching by feel, meaning it could take several days before crews can locate her body, Eric Buschow, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said at a press conference Friday evening.
‘We don’t know if she’s going to be found five minutes from now or five days from now, so we’re still going to be continuing this effort,’ he said.
‘The visibility in the water is one to two feet,’ Buschow added.
This diagram shows where Naya Rivera and her son rented a boat on Lake Piru before the four-year-old was seen alone. The map in the top left shows the location of the lake in relation to Los Angeles where Rivera lives