The body discovered Monday morning at Lake Piru has been identified as missing actress Naya Rivera, the Ventura County Sheriff’s office confirmed in a press conference.
The remains were discovered floating in the northeast area of the notoriously volatile lake, six days after the former Glee actress’s disappearance.
Authorities are confident the body belongs to Rivera and have been “in direct contact” with her family. The Ventura County Coroner’s office will make an official identification through dental records.
Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub announced, “There is no indication of foul play or that this was a suicide.”
Rivera rented a pontoon boat at the Ventura County lake on Wednesday afternoon with her four-year-old son, Josey. After missing the pontoon’s return time, lake staff found the boat drifting with Josey sleeping alone on board.
The authorities were notified, and a search and rescue mission launched immediately. Over eighty first responders, including sheriff’s personnel, boat crews, specialized divers, and helicopters scoured the lake and shoreline.
In a press conference, Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Kevin Donoghue said that a life jacket and the former Glee actress’s “personal belongings were on the boat.”
Rivera’s son told investigators that he had been swimming in the lake with his mother and she did not get back on the pontoon with him. Sheriff Ayub confirmed that he “described being helped into the boat by Naya who boosted him onto the boat, and he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water.” Josey was reunited safely with his father, Rivera’s ex-husband, actor Ryan Dorsey the same day.
Based on the child’s account and lack of physical clues on the shore, authorities chose to focus their search in the water. Lake Piru is full of natural debris that is easy to get tangled in and well known for dangerous rip currents that prove difficult for even the most experienced swimmers.
Rescuers scoured the four-mile lake and surrounding shoreline until 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday, when visibility in the water reduced to zero and conditions were unsafe. Exploration continued again at daylight, with the aid of sonar equipment, search dogs, and drones, but low water visibility impeded efforts.
After a day without success, authorities announced that the nature of the operation had changed from rescue to recovery, as the single mother was presumed to be dead.
Ex-husband Dorsey and Riviera’s grieving family gathered on the shore Saturday. They made their way into the lake together, where her father seemingly prayed while knee deep in the water. Dorsey was photographed sitting near the waterline, visibly devastated.
Distressed friends and fans tried to aid in the search for Rivera. On Sunday, authorities searched cabins near the lake in response to speculation on social media that they might find Rivera inside one. Sgt. Shannon King told People that nothing came of their investigation.
Glee costar, Heather Morris, pleaded with authorities to allow her and a group of friends to join the mission at the lake.
Today’s search operation at Lake Piru is winding down. The mission will resume Sunday morning in the ongoing effort to locate Naya Rivera. pic.twitter.com/oy25vTdDLi
— Ventura County Sheriff (@VENTURASHERIFF) July 12, 2020
Lake Piru has been closed to the public since search efforts began on Wednesday, and the Ventura County Sheriff released a statement to caution eager to help fans with the warning, “We don’t want to have to rescue you.”
For those intent on searching for Naya Rivera on your own, 1. The lake is closed. 2. Temps are already in the 90’s. 3. The terrain around the lake is very steep and rugged. Our teams are well equipped and highly trained. We don’t want to have to rescue you.
— Ventura County Sheriff (@VENTURASHERIFF) July 12, 2020
Distraught supporters were also quick to go after members of The New Directions that have stayed mum throughout Rivera’s disappearance. Glee co-star Kevin McHale urged sympathizers to “refrain from judging those who don’t show their pain on social media.” While Amber Riley clapped back that, “No one owes anyone online a performance of grief.”
I cannot begin to understand what Naya’s family must be feeling. I know the rest of us are completely shattered, but not without hope. Please respect her family & their privacy in this moment. Please refrain from judging those who don’t show their pain on social media. ♥️ https://t.co/DXsUj3qdCh
— Kevin McHale (@druidDUDE) July 12, 2020
On Monday, which marks the seven-year anniversary of Glee actor Cory Monteith’s death, members of the cast were photographed holding hands on the shore of Lake Piru.
Naya Rivera was 33 years old.
This photo of the cast of #Glee gathering together at Lake Piru today where #NayaRivera’s body was found is incredibly powerful — especially when you consider today is the 7 year anniversary of Cory Monteith’s death. I’m a mess. pic.twitter.com/RhY9hUb78E
— Dave Quinn (@NineDaves) July 13, 2020
Its a shame. Odd though that so many survive the stupidity of youth to become old. I guess I was lucky.
I would not bow to people who think they have the right to cause this stuff !
I had a similar situation,with the name of my Dixieland Jazz Band.
When contacted by the other band leader, I just refused to be pushed around,just because he was a local professional!
It has been 35 years,since,and everything is fine!
OUT OF RESPECT FOR HIM AND HIS BAND,I WILL NOT DRAG HIM INTO THIS CRAP!
Bruce New Orleans, La.
what the he!! are you talking about?
sorry bruce hirstius!!
Have you replied to the WRONG page content?
Must be a mistake.
I do not believe that at all
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