Authorities: Naya Rivera 'Mustered Enough Energy' To Save Her Son Before She Drowned

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 
Naya Rivera and Josey Hollis
Gregg DeGuire/Getty

Authorities say she “mustered enough energy” to get her son safely on the boat

Naya Rivera’s body was found yesterday following her disappearance on Lake Piru where she and four-year-old son, Josey, rented a boat for the afternoon. As new details emerge, it seems Rivera may have spent her final moments trying to save her son from a similar fate.

When the boat Rivera rented wasn’t returned at the end of its three-hour rental window, staff were dispatched to search for it. They found the boat with Josey sleeping in it alone and a life jacket, believed to have been Rivera’s, was found on board along with her identification. In the days following, police interviewed her son about what transpired.

“We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point during their journey,” Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said. “It was during that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water.” She made the ultimate sacrifice for her son who will grow up knowing his mom did everything she could for him.

Authorities believe the water currents may have been what ultimately led to Rivera’s drowning. “There are a lot of currents on the lake that appear particularly in the afternoon,” he said. “We believe it was mid-afternoon when she disappeared. The idea perhaps being that the boat started drifting, it was unanchored, and that she mustered enough energy to get her son back into the boat, but not enough to save herself.”

He also said there were photos and FaceTime calls from Rivera to family members during the time she and Josey were on the lake, and they were able to piece together a time table of events: “There was a picture sent to a family member that showed the boy on the boat by a cove. We found where that cove was.” According to the timestamp, it was taken approximately an hour-and-a-half to two hours before Josey was found on the boat.

Members from the cast of Glee were seen holding hands on the shore of Lake Piru about an hour before Ventura County Sheriffs confirmed Rivera’s death, Variety reported. Seven years ago to the day, the cast found out that their costar, Cory Monteith, had died from an accidental overdose.

Detectives said there is no reason to believe foul play occurred or that she died by suicide. Her body is at the medical’s examiners office where an autopsy will be performed and a positive identification can be confirmed through dental records.

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