Authorities are confident they have found the body of actress Naya Rivera at Lake Piru in California, five days after she went missing during a boating trip with her son, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.
An official identification is dependent on an examination of dental records, Sheriff Bill Ayub said during an afternoon news conference. An autopsy has not been conducted, but authorities have previously said they presume Rivera drowned in the lake.
“Based on the location where the body was found, physical characteristics of the body, clothing found on the body, and the physical condition of the body, as well as the absence of any other persons reported missing in the area, we are confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera,” Ayub said.
Rivera, 33, was boating with her 4-year-old son Wednesday afternoon when she went missing. The boy was found asleep and wearing a life vest late Wednesday afternoon and told investigators that he and his mother went swimming and he got back on the boat, but Rivera did not. Another life jacket was also found in the boat.
Her son described being helped into the boat by his mother from behind, but told investigators that when he looked back, he saw Rivera disappear under the water. Ayub said it was still speculation, but it was possible Rivera got caught in some currents that appear in the lake in the afternoon.
“The idea perhaps being that the boat started drifting, it was unanchored,” Ayub said. “And that she mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat but not enough to save herself.”
The sheriff’s office has said Rivera and her son were the only people on the boat she had rented.
In the area where the boat was found, the water was about 30 feet deep, authorities said.
The area where the body was found Monday was between 35 to 60 feet deep, with heavy brush and trees on the lake bed, Ayub said. Search teams had previously looked in that northeastern portion of the lake, but believe the body could have been concealed by the vegetation and brush. Visibility in the water during the day was about eight to 10 inches and there was lots of debris and full-size trees under the water and “varying depths.”
Investigators do not believe there were any signs of foul play or a suicide attempt.
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SOURCE: NBC News, Janelle Griffith and Doha Madani