Glee star Naya Rivera, 33, confirmed dead after body found in lake days after going missing

Sarah Carty
·Features & Style Editor
·4-min read

Naya Rivera has died at the age of 33.

The Ventura County Sheriff's department confirmed on Monday a body had been found at Lake Piru in California and later that day confirmed it was the former Glee actress in a press conference.

“We are confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera,” Sheriff Bill Ayub said.

Naya Rivera, a cast member in the television series "Glee," poses at a screening and Q&A for the show, at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles.
Naya Rivera has died at the age of 33. Photo: AAP

“She was found near the surface of the water,” the Sheriff continued, saying the depth of the water in that area is between 35 and 65 feet deep, with heavy brush and trees under the lake bed.

“As you can imagine it’s been an extremely difficult time for her family throughout this ordeal as fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, our hearts are with them and we share their grief for Naya’s loss.”

The Sheriff went on to say that there was no indication of foul play or no indication that her death was a suicide.

The police department said Naya’s son, Josey, said the pair went swimming and he was helped back up on to the boat by his mum, “who boosted him on to the deck from behind”.

“He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water.”

Los Angeles Sheriffs Department boat looks for missing US actress Naya Rivera on Lake Piru as searches continue after her disappearance while boating with her young son in Los Padres National Forest, California.
Police search for Naya Rivera on Lake Piru in California. Photo: AAP

The Sheriff said it would be speculation to say at this point how the events unfolded, however there are a lot of currents that appear on the lake, particularly in the afternoon, and they believe “perhaps 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”.

Josey was found a few hours later by a leasing agent, after Naya failed to return the boat.

He was wearing his life jacket and wrapped in a towel. An adult-sized life jacket was found on the boat.

Her body was discovered five days after the 33-year-old disappeared at the lake, where her son was found alone on July 8 on a boat the two had rented, the Ventura County Sheriff's Office said.

On Monday, authorities would not immediately say if the person found was Naya, but have previously said they believed she drowned in the lake, northwest of Los Angeles.

Search crews found the body floating in the northeast area of the lake and the county medical examiner was notified, authorities said on Monday.

Naya played singing cheerleader Santana Lopez for six seasons on the Fox musical comedy Glee.

She had experience boating on the lake in Los Padres National Forest, authorities said.

Surveillance video shows the actress and her son Josey Hollis Dorsey leaving on the rented boat.

Naya Rivera poses for a portrait in New York.
Naya's son, Josey, told investigators he and his mother had been swimming and he got back into the boat but she didn't, according to a sheriff's office statement. Photo: AAP

When the boat failed to return, its vendor found the vessel drifting in the northern end of the lake late on Wednesday afternoon with the boy asleep on board.

He told investigators he and his mother had been swimming and he got back into the boat but she didn't, according to a sheriff's office statement.

Naya is believed to have drowned "in what appears to be a tragic accident", the statement said.

Josey, Naya’s son from her marriage to actor Ryan Dorsey, was safe and healthy and with family members, authorities said.

The couple finalised their divorce in June 2018 after nearly four years of marriage.

The most recent tweet on Naya’s account, from July 7, read "just the two of us" along with a photo of her and her son.

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