The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office gave an update on Naya Rivera’s disappearance during a press conference on Monday, July 13, and released heartbreaking details about Rivera’s 4-year-old son, Josey Dorsey, witnessing her last moments before death. After revealing earlier in the day that a body was found at Lake Piru, authorities said they are “confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera.”
“[Josey] 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,” Sheriff Ayub said. “He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water.” The officer added, “She mustered enough energy to get her son onto the boat but wasn’t able to get herself.”
Rivera, 33, went missing on Wednesday, July 8, after taking her son, Josey Hollis Dorsey, out for a boat ride in Ventura County, California. Three hours after they rented a pontoon boat on Lake Piru, a boat shop employee discovered the little boy in the vessel by himself about 15 feet from the shore. Investigators began the search nearly immediately, revealing on Twitter that they were looking into a “possible drowning victim.” Later that night, they identified the victim as Rivera.
Josey, 4, told authorities he and his mom went swimming, but Rivera never returned to the boat. Though the search for the Glee actress included both the shoreline and surrounding areas, police had no reason to believe she ever left the water. “Investigators believe Rivera drowned in what appears to be a tragic accident,” Captain Eric Buschow of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office told In Touch on July 9.
The search continued for days after Rivera’s disappearance, but conditions at the lake complicated authorities’ efforts. The water at Lake Piru can range in depth from 5 feet to 40 feet, and visibility in the daytime is only about “8 to 10 inches.” A diver explained during a July 9 press conference that there are “a lot of tree branches and overgrowth from when the lake was lower, so [they’re] … breaking through sticks and searching a heavy brush bottom.” Calling it a “braille” search, he explained they were working mostly by touch rather than sight.
Ryan Dorsey, Rivera’s ex-husband and the father of her son, was spotted at his former sister-in-law’s home on July 9 with Josey. Buschow said the Devious Maids actress’ family is “going through a very traumatic time,” but her son is “in good health.” An insider told In Touch the whole family is “heartbroken,” particularly for Josey. “That little boy worshipped his mom, he loved her so much,” they said. “The thought of him waiting for his mom to get back into the boat or what he may have witnessed is simply terrifying. Josey is still asking for his mommy.”