Victoria Albert – CBS News
California authorities announced Monday that they are “confident” that a body they found at a California lake is that of missing actress Naya Rivera. The announcement concludes an extensive search for Rivera, which began six days ago after her 4-year-old son was found alone in a pontoon boat the pair had rented.
“We are confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera,” said Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub. The sheriff said the location of the body, its physical characteristics and clothing, and the fact that no other missing people have been reported, make officials confident the body is Rivera’s.
She was found in the northeastern portion of Lake Piru, floating near the surface, Ayub said. He added that investigators believe her body was in that area the whole time, but that it had been concealed by shrubbery.
The body will now be taken to the medical examiner’s office where an autopsy will be performed. There is no indication of foul play or suicide, Ayub said.
Rivera was first reported missing last Wednesday. Authorities said last week that Rivera and her son rented a pontoon boat at approximately 1 p.m. local time and that when they didn’t return as expected three hours later, workers from the rental company went out to search for them.
Rivera’s son was eventually found in the boat with his life jacket on. He told authorities that he and Rivera had gone swimming in the lake, and said he got back in the boat but she did not.
“He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water,” Ayub said. There was an adult-sized life jacket in the boat, and there was not a life jacket on the recovered body.
Video footage showed that Rivera and her son were the only people who boarded the boat. Authorities said Rivera had visited the lake previously.
By Thursday, authorities said they believed she drowned in “what appears to be a tragic accident.”
A petition created last week that calls for warning signs to be put up around the lake has received more than 32,000 signatures.
“Naya Rivera is not the first, nor the last to go missing at Lake Piru,” the petition said. “Lake Piru is a very deep lake with very bad whirlpools, people have been asking for years for the city to put up warning signs for swimmers. Locals of Ventura County don’t go to Lake Piru for this reason! Tourists have no idea what they’re getting into.”
Rivera, 33, was best known for her role on “Glee.” She was nominated for a Grammy in 2010 as part of the cast who sang a rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.'” She also won several ALMA awards, a People’s Choice Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award, according to IMDB.
Earlier in the day, officials announced that a body had been found while searching for Rivera. “Glee” co-star Jane Lynch tweeted about that announcement, writing, “Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were. Love and peace to your family.”
Chris Colfer, another of Rivera’s “Glee” co-stars, also posted a tribute. “She spoke truth to power with poise and fearlessness,” he wrote on Instagram. “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.”