Naya Rivera death: What happened to 'Glee' actress in Lake Piru, explains Sheriff’s Department diver

Naya Rivera death: What happened to 'Glee' actress in Lake Piru, explains Sheriff’s Department diver
(Getty Images)

Hours after Glee star Naya Rivera's body was found on Monday, July 13, Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub had stated that the actress had mustered enough energy to save her son, but not herself. Shortly before Rivera's body was found in Lake Piru, the Sheriff's Office Search & Rescue Team's diver Robert Inglis had provided more insight into what may have happened to the actress at the doomed lake.

“The best thing that we can say that contributes to a lot of the drownings is when people go swimming and they are not wearing their life vests. And they jumped off the boat,” Inglis told US Weekly. “It doesn’t take much to get exhausted if you’re not in shape. Winds do kick up at that lake, and the boats start to get away and you are trying to go after that boat … you could get a leg cramp. If you are wearing a life vest, you could rest and someone can go back and pick you up, or call for help or something like that.”

Naya Rivera and Josey Hollis attend the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part" at Regency Village Theatre on February 2, 2019, in Westwood, California. (Getty Images)

Rivera, 33, went missing on July 8 after she went on a boating trip with her four-year-old son Josey at Lake Piru, California. The child was found alone on a rented pontoon boat with his life vest on while Rivera's vest was on board but she was nowhere to be seen. 

Inglish, in his statement, added that "people who are muscular" do not float as easily. He said: "So in scuba instruction, we have to teach a 10-minute tread water float, and I’ve had divers who are super muscular. They struggle because they are sinking. They can’t float. So depending on the body tone of a person, you could get that feeling that you are being sucked down because you really just can’t float."

Inglis, who dove during the first 48 hours after Rivera was reported missing, also said that Lake Piru is not more susceptible to drowning deaths than other lakes. The diver said: "We’ve been in that lake many times. I’ve been at the dam. I go to the deepest point. There is no rip current, there are no whirlpools,” he told the outlet. “I think it was seven years before, or seven years ago that they did have drowning in that lake.” At least eight people have drowned in Lake Piry since 1994, with the previous drowning reported in 2008. 

Boats with emergency workers search Lake Piru, where actress Naya Rivera was reported missing Wednesday, on July 9, 2020 in Piru, California. Rivera, known for her role in "Glee," was reported missing July 8 after her four-year-old son, Josey, was found alone in a boat rented by Rivera. (Getty Images)

The diver, who has been with the Sheriff's department for five years, said that the lake may have relatively calm waters, however, it is easy to get tired swimming. “If you’re not familiar with the boat and getting on and off the boat, you can get tired just climbing onto the boat. You can fall back in, people hit their heads, things like that,” Ingles said. “There are some cases in lakes where one person is in the water, starts to drown, then someone else jumps in to try to save the other person. The person drowning is saved and gets back on the boat, but the other person who jumped in to save them didn’t make it back into the boat.”

The professional diver also added that it is possible that wind played a key factor in Rivera's drowning. "What I suspect is that the winds kicked up. Those pontoon boats are very light, and when you push them, it can get away from you. She might’ve tried to swim after the boat,” Inglis added.

Rivera's body was found on Monday morning and the County Sheriff Ayub, during a press conference, stated: "She mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself." Rivera's son had told investigators that he and his mother had gone into the water for a swim. After a while she got him on the boat, but when he looked back, he saw her disappear under the surface of the water. 

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