Police believe Naya Rivera 'may have mustered energy to get son on boat' but not herself

Catriona Harvey-Jenner

Yesterday, the Ventura County Sheriff confirmed that a body recovered from Lake Piru was that of Naya Rivera, who was reported missing at the water last Wednesday (8 July). Now, authorities are trying to piece together exactly what happened to lead to the Glee star's death.

In a press conference to the media yesterday, Sheriff Bill Ayub said: "Today our search teams have recovered a body in the lake. 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 have found is that of Naya Rivera."

He went on to say the actress was found in "a north-eastern portion of the lake, near the surface of the water". It's believed the reason it took search teams six days to find Rivera is that she had previously been submerged, but due to the natural process of gases being released from the body she eventually rose to the top. The depth of the lake in that area is estimated to be somewhere between 35 and 60 feet deep, with heavy brush and trees lining the lake bed.

Photo credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN - Getty Images
Photo credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN - Getty Images

The alarm was raised about Rivera's disappearance last week after the actress' four-year-old son was found alone and asleep in the drifting boat. The 33-year-old had rented a boat for the afternoon, where they both proceeded to get out and swim. But only Josey, who was wearing his life jacket when he was discovered in the vessel, returned. The other, adult-sized life jacket was found unused in the boat along with the child.

When quizzed about how Josey managed to return to the boat but not Naya herself, Sheriff Ayub said none of the details could be confirmed, but that there was a suggestion she may have prioritised her son's safety over her own life.

"It would be speculation to say at this point, [but] there are a lot of currents on the lake that appear particularly in the afternoon," said the Sheriff. "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 to the boat, but not enough to save herself."

View this post on Instagram

just the two of us

A post shared by Naya Rivera (@nayarivera) on Jul 7, 2020 at 3:15pm PDT

Tragically, Rivera's latest Instagram post featured a sweet image of herself and son Josey, with the caption, "just the two of us." Fans have since shared an outpouring of love on the photo, writing, "praying for you", and, "I'm heartbroken."

An autopsy will now be performed on the mother-of-one at the local medical examiner's office, which may shed further light on exactly what happened, and she will be formally identified using dental records.

Our thoughts are with Naya Rivera's loved ones at this terrible time.

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