A body found by search teams in Lake Piru has been confirmed to belong to Naya Rivera, who was reported missing there last Wednesday (8 July). In a press conference held by the Ventura County Sheriff's Office this evening, a spokesperson confirmed the body has been identified as the Glee actress.
In a press conference streamed live on social media, Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said: "Today our search teams have recovered a body in the lake. Based on the location where the body was found, physical characteristics of the body, clothing found on the body, and the physical condition of the body, as well as the absence of any other persons reported missing in the area, we are confident the body we have found is that of Naya Rivera."
The Sheriff went on to explain the actress was found in "a north-eastern portion of the lake, near the surface of the water". The depth of the lake in that area is estimated to be somewhere between 35 and 60 feet deep, with heavy brush and trees lining the lake bed, all of which made the search for the actress very difficult.
The alarm was raised about Rivera's disappearance last week after a couple who were also boating on the lake discovered her four-year-old son Josey - who they mistook for a girl - in the boat alone, and immediately called emergency services. "The emergency is we found a little girl in a boat all by herself and her mom is nowhere to be found," a woman can be heard saying in the later-released 911 call.
33-year-old Rivera rented a boat at Lake Piru with her son on Wednesday afternoon last week, where they both proceeded to get out and swim. But only Josey, who was wearing his life jacket when he was discovered asleep in the vessel, returned. The actress' unused life jacket was found in the boat along with the child, who told police his mum had helped him clamber back in, before she disappeared under the surface of the water and failed to come back up.
Over the weekend, Naya Rivera's ex-husband, Ryan Dorsey, attended the scene where the search for her took place. Dorsey was photographed looking understandably emotional by the water where Rivera was last seen alive. The pair got married in 2014, but later divorced in 2018 and went on to share custody of their son. Dorsey joined members of his ex-partner's family at the lakeside, where they were seen wading in the waters and looking visibly tearful.
A 100-strong team, which included dive teams, helicopters and drones, was involved in the operation to retrieve the actress' body from the lake, after the hunt was quickly switched from a missing person's operation to a search and recovery. Initially, there were fears they may never find her due to poor visibility and the possibility of entanglement underwater. It will come as a painful relief to Naya Rivera's loved ones that she has now been found and can be laid to rest.
Now Rivera's body has been retrieved, authorities will be able to try to piece together exactly what happened, which they said had remained a "mystery" up until now, according to the Sheriff's Office. After taking a statement from four-year-old Josey, local police were adamant that Rivera's disappearance occurred as a result of a tragic accident. "Everything that we’ve learned so far leads to this being some sort of water recreational accident," sergeant Kevin Donoghue said.
In today's press conference, Sheriff Bill Ayub confirmed this line of thought, saying: "There was no indication of foul play, and no indication this was a suicide." An autopsy will now be performed on the mother-of-one at the local medical examiner's office, and she will be formally identified using dental records.
This content is imported from Instagram. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.[instagram]https://www.instagram.com/p/CCW3bLhAUCt/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading[/instagram]
Tragically, Rivera's latest Instagram post featured a sweet image of herself and son Josey, with the caption, "just the two of us." Fans have since shared an outpouring of love on the photo, writing, "praying for you", and, "I'm heartbroken."
Our thoughts are with Naya Rivera's loved ones at this terrible time.