Body of Glee's Naya Rivera Recovered

She is believed to have accidentally drowned.
Tuesday 14 July 2020
The body of Glee actress Naya Rivera has been recovered in the Californian lake where she drowned last week during a boat trip with her four-year-old son. Photo: AFP

It is a sad day for Glee fans with the announcement of the news that Naya ‘Santana’ Rivera’s body was retrieved from Lake Piru. An initial examination found no evidence of foul play or suicide, said Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub during a press conference.

“We are confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera,” he said, pointing to the location, appearance, clothing and condition of the body. “Her body was being taken to a medical examiner’s office for a full autopsy and confirmation of her identity from dental records, though no other missing persons have been reported at Lake Piru,” he added.


Naya Rivera was best known for her role as Santana in the hit TV series, Glee. Photo: AFP


Rivera, 33, is believed to have accidentally drowned after renting the boat with her young son at the camping and recreational hotspot around an hour’s drive northwest of Los Angeles. She vanished on last week on the afternoon of 8 July, and a massive search involving divers, patrol boats and helicopters was launched after her sleeping son was spotted drifting alone in a boat on the lake. Her son later told investigators that Rivera had helped him into the boat before “he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water,” said the sheriff.


The pontoon boat used by Naya Rivera is wrapped in police tape. Photo: AFP


The lake’s strong currents are a possible cause of a fatal accident. “The idea perhaps being that the boat started drifting – it was unanchored -and that she mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself.”

The lake has been closed to the public since she had been missing, with around 100 personnel, including the US Coast Guard and rescuers from neighbouring counties, joining the search. Search teams used footage from video messaging calls Rivera made from the boat before her disappearance, as well as interviews with her son, to scour portions of the lake bed for her remains over six days, with no success.


The search for the Glee actress went on for six days. Photo: AFP


“We believe she was concealed within some of the shrubbery on the floor bed of the lake” before eventually floating to the surface due to natural decomposition. With less than one foot (30 centimetres) of visibility underwater in daylight, the recovery operation was a “complex search effort” even with use of sonar equipment, he said.

Tributes have begun pouring in for the actress.





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She was bold. She was outrageous. She was a LOT of fun.⁣ ⁣ Naya made me laugh like no one else on that set. I always said it while we were working together and I’ve maintained it ever since. Her playful, wicked sense of humor never ceased to bring a smile to my face.⁣ ⁣ She played by her own rules and was in a class of her own. She had a brashness about her that I couldn’t help but be enchanted by. I also always loved her voice, and savored every chance I got to hear her sing. I think she had more talent than we would have ever been able to see.⁣ ⁣ I was constantly moved by the degree to which she took care of her family, and how she looked out for her friends. She showed up for me on numerous occasions where she didn’t have to, and I was always so grateful for her friendship then, as I certainly am now.⁣ ⁣ And even as I sit here, struggling to comprehend, gutted beyond description- the very thought of her cracks me up and still brings a smile to my face. That was Naya’s gift. And it’s a gift that will never go away. ⁣ ⁣ Rest in peace you wild, hilarious, beautiful angel.

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