Sheriff's Department Believes Naya Rivera's Last Act Was Saving Her Son

Naya Rivera as Santana Lopez on Glee

Naya Rivera’s death has sent shockwaves throughout Hollywood, with many – including her family and Glee co-stars – mourning her sudden passing. The 33-year-old actress went missing on Wednesday, July 8 while she and her were boating on Lake Piru in California. Initial reports indicate that Rivera drowned and, now, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department believes she died saving her son.

After Naya Rivera’s body was located in the northeastern portion of Lake Piru on Monday, July 13, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department held a press conference. Per People, Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub stated that the department believes the boat Rivera ‘s boat likely became unanchored, and the actress did what she could to get her son back on it:

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.

Sherrif Ayub went on to say that based on their conversations with Rivera’s 4-year-old son, Josey, they’ve learned that he and his mother did swim together in the lake and that he was helped back into the boat by Rivera:

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.

Rivera’s son was initially found sleeping alone in the boat before the search for his mother began. That search started in earnest on that Wednesday night and included personnel from the sheriff’s office as well as divers, boat crews and a helicopter. After five hours, the search was suspended due to visibility issues and dangerous conditions. The search would pick up on Thursday morning and, on the same day, Rivera was believed to have died in an accidental drowning incident.

During this time, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department also used a photo to assist in their search for her remains. The photo, which shows the actress with her son while they were on the boat, was sent to a family member by Rivera herself and was taken between 90 minutes to two hours before her son was found alone.

Since Naya Rivera first went missing, locals have been vocal about an apparent lack of protective elements for those swimming in Lake Piru. Their efforts have included a petition on called “Lake Piru Warning Signs.” The petition was originally aiming for 25,000 but, having now surpassed 30,000, that initial goal has been doubled to 50,000.

We here at CinemaBlend continue to extend our thoughts to the loved ones of Naya Rivera during this difficult time.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.