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The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department confirmed in a press conference this afternoon that Glee actress Naya Rivera’s body was recovered from Lake Piru after she died from drowning.
“Today our search teams have recovered a body in the lake,” the sheriff said. “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 person who was reported missing in the area, we are confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera. She was found in a northeastern portion of the lake, near the surface of the water. The depth of the water in that area is between 35 and 60 feet deep and there’s heavy brush and trees on the lake bed there.”
“We’ve been in direct contact with this family the entire time,” he added. He said that there was no life jacket on the body found. An autopsy will be performed.
He then recapped what they learned happened from their investigation: “On July 8, 2020, last Wednesday, Naya Rivera came to Lake Piru and rented a pontoon boat at the dock,” the sheriff said. “She and her four-year-old son left the dock at approximately 1 PM and headed toward the northern portion of the lake. We identified specific areas they visited that day by looking at the shoreline features of the background of the FaceTime videos where she was chatting with family members while out on the lake. We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point during their journey. 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. Naya’s son was later found asleep on the boat which was adrift in the northern portion of the lake known as the Narrows when a leasing agent searched for the water craft which was overdue for return.”
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Rivera had been with her four-year-old son Josey last Wednesday afternoon when they went swimming in the lake. He was found alone in the pontoon boat they rented and had worn a life vest. The search for Rivera began that afternoon and became a recovery mission on Thursday.
When asked by a reporter during the press conference how her son was saved but not Rivera, he said that the son had been swimming. “It would be speculation to say at this point [how her son got on the boat but not herself],” he said. “There are a lot of currents that appear on the lake in the afternoon. She mustered enough energy to get her son back on the boat but not enough to save herself.”
On Monday morning, the sheriff’s department announced on Twitter that a body had been found in the lake. TMZ and The Wrap reported at the time that law enforcement confirmed to them that the body was Rivera’s, and she was pronounced dead.
The press conference comes after Capt. Eric Buschow of the department gave an interview to E!, which the outlet ran before news of Rivera being found emerged. Buschow told E! that investigators believed what happened to Rivera was simply a horrible accident. “We are confident, based on the circumstances, she was not a victim of foul play. There is no indication of this being an abduction or a homicide,” Buschow said. “There is also nothing to indicate it was a suicide either.”
He also addressed her son Josey’s role helping investigators. “Kids that age, they are going to be very matter of fact in providing information,” he said. “And he was. He was able to provide information that was very helpful to investigators.”
This post will be updated as the press conference continues.
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