Investigators in Ventura County, California are still trying to piece together exactly what happened over a week ago when Naya Rivera drown in Lake Piru. Authorities have confirmed that the “Glee” star and her four-year-old son Josey went into the water together from their rented pontoon boat, and that she helped him get back aboard the boat. But what is still a mystery is why Rivera herself was never able to get out of the water.
Captain Jeremy Paris, of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, spoke with Entertainment Tonight host Kevin Frazier about Rivera’s final moments.
“We know that she was out with her 4-year-old boy and she was swimming,” Captain Paris said. “We know he was wearing a life vest and she wasn’t. We know that she was able to, and she did, assist him onto the boat. And then for some unknown reason, and I don’t think we will ever know, she was not able to get on the boat herself.”
He went on to dispel any notion that she got caught in some kind of whirlpool or riptide, saying neither of those exist on the lake.
“There’s no whirlpools there, there’s no what we call riptides like you see at the ocean, that’s not what’s occurring,” he said. “It’s really just this wind-driven kind of surface action that we see there.”
After several days of extensive searching, Rivera’s body was found floating in the lake earlier this week. An autopsy showed that she had suffered no physical injuries or had any drugs or alcohol in her system. Police maintain it was a “tragic accident.”
Captain Paris went on to explain that the main factor in Rivera’s potential drowning would be the wind. He said pontoon boats sit high off the water and if not anchored they will bob up and down from the wind and be pushed across the water.
“So, we have factors of wind with the boat being pushed away from a swimmer, we have wave action that can cause that boat to bob up and down making it difficult to get on and then we have underwater hazards that can, you know, snag feet underneath you, so that’s what I know kind of what the hazards are,” he said.
There’s been an outpouring of support and tributes to Rivera since the tragic news that her body was found. She was just 33 years-old, and was best known for playing the role of Santana Lopez on FOX’s hit show “Glee.”