Glee actress Naya Rivera’s body was found in Lake Piru, the Ventura Sheriff’s Department confirmed in its press conference given today. Sheriff Bill Ayub shared details with reporters on what their investigation revealed, including the heartbreaking news that Rivera appeared to have sacrificed her life to help her four-year-old son Josey get back in the pontoon boat they rented. Josey was found asleep and alone on the boat later in the afternoon. He had on a life jacket. No life jacket was found on Rivera’s body. Learn morevolume is gedemptpowered by AdSparc
Ayub said that Rivera was “found in a northeastern portion of the lake, near the surface of the water. The depth of the water in that area is between 35 and 60 feet deep and there are heavy brush and trees on the lake bed there.” He then explained.
“She and her four-year-old son left the dock at approximately 1pm and headed toward the northern portion of the lake. We identified specific areas they visited that day by looking at the shoreline features of the background of the FaceTime videos where she was chatting with family members while out on the lake. We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point during their journey. 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. Naya’s son was later found asleep on the boat which was adrift in the northern portion of the lake known as the Narrows when a leasing agent searched for the watercraft which was overdue for return. The young boy was wearing a life vest when he was found and he was wrapped in a towel. An adult-sized life vest was found on the boat.”
When asked by a reporter why Rivera was able to get her son back on the boat but not herself, the sheriff said, “It would be speculation to say at this point (how her son got on the boat but not herself). There are a lot of currents on the lake that appear particularly in the afternoon. We believe it was mid-afternoon when she disappeared, the idea being that perhaps the boat started drifting. It was unanchored. And she mustered enough energy to get her son back on the boat but not enough to save herself. The son was in the water, yes.”
Celebrities who had worked with Naya Rivera paid tribute to their late co-star. “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.”
Naya’s death is the latest in a tragic arc of Glee actors. One of the show’s leads, Cory Monteith, died in 2013—exactly seven years to the day before Rivera’s body was identified—from a toxic mix of alcohol and heroin. Rivera’s ex-boyfriend, Mark Salling, who played a jock on the series, killed himself in 2018 after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.