Naya Rivera's final moments were heroic, police say. The 33-year-old actress' body was found in Lake Piru in Ventura County, California, on Monday, and during a news conference that afternoon, Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub shared what authorities believe led to Rivera's death.
Ayub recounted what the Glee star's 4-year-old son, Josey, whom she shares with ex-husband Ryan Dorsey, told police about the disappearance of his mom. Josey was discovered alone in a boat by another person out on the lake last week.
"We know from speaking with her son, that he 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, who boosted him onto the deck from behind," the sheriff said. "He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water."
Police believe Rivera disappeared in "mid-afternoon" when "there are a lot of currents on the lake."
Ayub also shared their theory of what may have happened the day she went missing. "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."
The sheriff further noted that there is no evidence of foul play or suicide. An autopsy is to be performed at the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office to officially identify Rivera based on dental records.
Robert Inglis of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team also offered insight as to what may have happened to Rivera on Lake Piru.
"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."
Inglis also pointed out that "people who are muscular" do not float as easily. "In scuba instruction, we have to teach a 10-minute tread water float, and I’ve had divers who are super muscular," he explained. "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."