Following a “large scale search and rescue operation”, Naya Rivera has been officially confirmed dead by authorities, five days after she was reported missing.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that they found a body in the north eastern section of Lake Piru, and later confirmed that it was Glee star, Naya Rivera.
The 33-year-old – who is best known for playing the role of Santana Lopez on Glee – went missing on Wednesday afternoon, after renting a pontoon boat with her four-year-old son Josey Dorsey.
During a press conference, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department shared details about where her body was found, while also thanking the witnesses for the information which eventually led them to her body.
“Based on the location where the body was found, physical characteristics of the body, clothing found of the body and the physical condition of the body, as well as the absence of any other persons reported in the area, we are confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera,” Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said.
According to a conversation the authorities had with Naya’s four-year-old son, the assumption is that she managed to push her son back onto the boat, but was unable to find the strength to get back onto the boat herself.
“Her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him on to the deck from behind,” Bill Ayub continued.
“He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water.”
He continued to say that the Sherriff’s Department speculate that the pair went swimming during a current – which is quite likely in the mid-afternoon – and the boat started to drift…
“There are a lot of currents on the lake that appear particularly in the afternoon,” he added.
“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 onto the boat, but not enough to save herself.”
An autopsy will be conducted to confirm the exact cause of death, while her identity will be officially confirmed through dental records.
Many of Naya’s co-stars, friends, family, and fans have paid tribute to the star since she was confirmed dead by authorities…
“She was so independent and strong and the idea of her not being here is something I cannot comprehend,” Glee star Kevin McHale wrote on Twitter.
“She was the single most quick-witted person I’ve ever met, with a steel-trap memory that could recall the most forgettable conversations from a decade ago,” he continued.
“She was the most talented person I’ve ever known and I’m furious we won’t get to see more.”
Jane Lynch, who starred as Sue Sylvester on the show, also paid tribute on Twitter…
“Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were. Love and peace to your family,” she said.
Darren Criss said that he “was constantly moved by the degree to which she took care of her family, and how she looked out for her friends.
“She showed up for me on numerous occasions where she didn’t have to, and I was always so grateful for her friendship then, as I certainly am now,” he added.
Chris Colfer posted a very long and heartfelt tribute on Instagram, calling her “truly one of a kind”…
“How can you convey all your love and respect for someone in one post? How can you summarize a decade of friendship and laughter with words alone? If you were friends with Naya Rivera, you simply can’t. Her brilliance and humor were unmatched,” his post began.
“Her beauty and talent were otherworldly. She spoke truth to power with poise and fearlessness. She could turn a bad day into a great day with a single remark. She inspired and uplifted people without even trying.
“Being close to her was both a badge of honor and a suit of armor. Naya was truly one of a kind, and she always will be.
“Sending all my love to her wonderful family and her beautiful son.”
RIP Naya Rivera. Our thoughts are with her nearest and dearest during this tragic time.