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 the Glee star was found in 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.
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 helped 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 body 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.
The family was 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.
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.
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.
On Sunday, Naya’s distraught family were seen at the lake trying to assist investigators in their search for her.