The body of Naya Rivera, 33, the actor and singer best known for her performance in Glee, was recovered from a California Lake on Monday, where she disappeared last week.
The day she went missing
Naya went missing on Wednesday, July 9, after renting a boat with her four-year-old son, Josey Dorsey, for a day out on California’s Lake Piru. Her son was found asleep and safe on the boat.
Ventura County Sheriff, Bill Ayub said the boy told investigators he had been swimming with his mother when she boosted him from behind into the boat. He then saw her disappear under the surface of the water.
The search and rescue operation for the missing actress continued for five days amid low water visibility and numerous obstacles on the lake bottom.
“She mustered enough energy to get her son back on the boat but not enough to save herself”
After a six day search, her body was found floating in the northeast area of the lake where the water is between 35 and 60 feet deep. Police believe Rivera’s unanchored boat started to drift away from the actress and her son while they were swimming. Ayub said Rivera, “mustered enough energy to get her son back on the boat but not enough to save herself.” Researchers believe Rivera’s body spent days tangled in shrubbery on the bed of the lake before it rose to the surface. Where it was found floating shortly after 9:10 a.m.
No indication of suicide or foul play
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the actress’s body during a news conference. Bill Ayub told reporters at the news conference that based on the body’s condition and physical characteristics, as well as the location it was discovered, authorities were confident it was that of Rivera. Although the investigators are “confident,” the body will still be taken to Ventura County Coroner’s Office for a detailed autopsy, where it will be identified through dental records. They believe the actor’s death to have been accidental and Sheriff Bill Ayub stated that there was no indication of suicide or foul play.
“It has been an extremely difficult time for her family”
“As you can imagine, it has been an extremely difficult time for her family throughout this ordeal,” the Ventura County sheriff said. “Our hearts are with them and we share in their grief for Naya’s loss. Our hearts also go out to Naya’s many friends and fans who have been holding out hope for the best over the past few days. Naya’s family has expressed their gratitude for all involved in the search efforts.”
Rivera rose to fame starring as Santana Lopez on Ryan Murphy’s Glee when it debuted in 2009 until the show ended in 2015.
Lopez started out as a mean cheerleader but developed into a more major role and a fan favorite as the series went on. Particularly as the character developed a romantic relationship with fellow cheerleader, Brittany Pierce (Heather Morris).
As part of the “Glee” cast, she received several nominations at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Grammys and Teen Choice Awards. After the show wrapped in 2015, Rivera appeared in Devious Maids as Blanca Alvarez. Most recently, she starred in the YouTube dance drama, Step Up: High Water.
Unfortunate deaths in the Glee cast
Sadly, Naya is the third cast member from the show to have died, following Mark Salling, who killed himself in 2018 after pleading guilty to charges over child abuse images. Another one of her co-stars, Cory Monteith, died in 2013 following a heroin and alcohol overdose.
In fact, news of Naya’s death has fallen on Cory Monteith’s seventh death anniversary.
Naya Rivera’s Personal Life
Rivera married actor, Ryan Dorsey in 2014, with whom she had her son, Josey Dorsey. The couple divorced in 2018.
Following Glee, Rivera signed a record deal with Columbia. She released a single titled, ‘Sorry,’ with her former boyfriend Big Sean, and continued to act in various film and TV projects.
In 2016, Rivera released a memoir titled “Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up.” She discussed her experience on Glee, and shared her abortion story with her husband at the time, Ryan Dorsey, whom she later divorced.
Rivera is survived by parents Yolanda Rivera and George Rivera. She has a younger brother Mychal who’s an NFL player and sister Nickayla, who’s a model. Naya is also survived by her son Josey Hollis Dorsey, with ex-husband Ryan Dorsey.
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