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Body of ‘Glee’ actress Naya Rivera, 33, found at Lake Piru after six-day search

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A body found at Lake Piru in Southern California has been identified as “Glee” actress Naya Rivera, according to Ventura County Sheriff.

USA TODAY

Naya Rivera’s body has been recovered from Lake Piru following a six-day search after the “Glee” actress disappeared from a rented boat, authorities confirmed.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office announced that a body found at the Southern California lake Monday morning has been identified as Rivera. She was 33.

Based on the location, physical characteristics and clothing, as well as the absence of anyone else reported missing from the area, authorities are “confident” the body is that of Rivera, Sheriff Bill Ayub said during a news conference Monday afternoon.

Ayub said Rivera’s body was found “in the northeastern portion of the lake,” where the water was 35 to 60 feet deep. A boat crew spotted the body around 9:10 a.m. Monday. 

“There was no indication of foul play and no indication this was a suicide,” Ayub added. 

Rivera disappeared at the lake last Wednesday afternoon, where she had rented the boat with her 4-year-old son, Josey Dorsey. Boaters found the child alone on the boat with Rivera’s purse, wallet and life jacket. 

She had chatted with family members on FaceTime, and investigators used those videos to identify areas the two had visited.

Police believe Rivera’s unanchored boat started to drift away from the actress and her son while they were swimming. Ayub said Rivera “mustered enough energy to get her son back on the boat but not enough to save herself.

“Her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind,” Ayub said. “(Her son) told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water.”

Rivera’s body has been transported to the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office, where identification will be confirmed, Ayub added.

USA TODAY has reached out to Rivera’s publicist, ex-husband Ryan Dorsey’s manager and the sheriff’s department for more information. 

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Rivera’s family visited the lake regularly as the sheriff’s office used sonar technology to comb through the murky water and looked through surrounding buildings and shores. Her parents were taken out on the water Monday to see where Rivera was found.

“If you can imagine, it has been an extremely difficult time for her family throughout this ordeal,” Ayub said Monday. “Our hearts are with them and we share in their grief for Naya’s loss.”

The lake was closed to the public, but a small roadside memorial of flowers had been left on a pullout overlooking the water.

Monday’s discovery fell on the seventh anniversary of the death of Rivera’s “Glee” co-star Cory Monteith, who died in 2013 in Canada at age 31. 

A handful of friends, including “Glee” alum Heather Morris, gathered at Lake Piru with Rivera’s family, standing hand-in-hand on the shore after Rivera’s body was recovered.

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Rivera is best known for playing the snarky Santana Lopez on the Fox musical dramedy “Glee,” which ran from 2009 to 2015.

Twentieth Century Fox Television, the production company behind “Glee,” said, “Our hearts are broken.”

“Naya Rivera was a fierce talent with so much more to do and this is such a terrible tragedy,” the company said in a statement to USA TODAY. “We are forever grateful for the indelible contribution she made to ‘Glee,’ from the first episode to the last. Our hearts are broken and our thoughts go out to Naya’s family, friends and young son.”

A Southern California native, Rivera was born and raised in the Santa Clarita Valley of Los Angeles County, approximately 20 miles from Lake Piru. She had previously been to the lake, authorities said.

Rivera started her career in entertainment at age 4, with recurring roles on “Family Matters” and “The Royal Family,” as well as minor appearances on other shows like “Baywatch” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” according to IMDb.

Most recently, Rivera starred as Collette Jones for three seasons of the YouTube Red series “Step Up: High Water.”

The day before she went missing, Rivera posted a picture to Instagram of her embracing her son, with the caption, “Just the two of us.”

In her 2016 memoir “Sorry Not Sorry,” Rivera called her son, whose father is actor Ryan Dorsey, “my greatest success, and I will never do any better than him.” Rivera and Dorsey divorced in June 2018 after nearly four years of marriage.

The actress was engaged to rapper Big Sean in 2013, but their relationship ended a year later. The pair met on Twitter and collaborated musically, with the rapper appearing on Rivera’s debut single, “Sorry.”

On July 2, Rivera wrote on Instagram: “No matter the year, circumstance, or strife, every day you’re alive is a blessing. Make the most of today and every day you are given. tomorrow is not promised.”

Contributing: Morgan Hines and Andrea Mandell, USA TODAY; Gretchen Wenner, Cheri Carlson and Jeremy Childs, Ventura County Star; The Associated Press

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