On July 8, 2020, Naya Rivera was declared
missing after her four-year-old son, Josey, was found alone in Rivera’s rented boat at Lake Piru . The hunt for both Rivera and Josey had begun at 4:00 p.m. same day , three hours after they left the dock, when their rental was over. Another boater discovered Josey alone, asleep on the boat together with his life vest on, around 5:00 p.m. The boat was within the Narrows, a region at the north of the lake which will be quite deep and windy. An adult life vest was found on board, along side Rivera’s identification. Josey told investigators that they were swimming and his mother helped him climb back to the boat, but she was unable to climb back onboard, after which she disappeared underwater. He also stated that his mother wasn’t wearing a life vest.
Lake Piru is understood locally for strong, unpredictable currents and whirlpools that have caused the
deaths of swimmers within the past. Rivera’s vehicle, a black Mercedes G-Wagen , was found within the parking zone .
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office suspended the search and operation that evening and resumed again the subsequent day. The lake was closed to the general public , with dive teams from across the region participating within the search. On July 9, the sheriff’s department confirmed to NBC that Rivera was presumed dead which rescue efforts would now shift to recovery efforts. On the first day of the search, efforts had been made ashore to see if Rivera had made it out of the lake; a scarcity of evidence and Josey telling officers that he saw his mother disappear underwater led them to change the search to recovery. On July 10, the sheriff’s office released
closed-circuit television footage of Rivera and her son arriving within the parking zone and leaving the dock on the boat, and also the number of divers involved was cut from around 100 to around 40. The sheriff’s department explained that the visibility was so poor it had been more probable Rivera would be found by using
sonar devices. likewise as dive teams and sonar, sniffer dogs were taken out on the lake.
On July 11 and 12, Rivera’s parents, brother, ex-husband Ryan Dorsey and Glee co-star
Heather Morris joined the search team at the lake. The sheriff’s office dissuaded more civilians from joining the search as a result of dangerous terrain. They restated that they were searching ashore in addition as within the lake. On July 11, the sheriff’s office had announced that other counties and a private contractor were assisting with the search.
On July 13, it was announced that a body had been found floating in Lake Piru by divers when the search resumed within the morning, at around 9:30 a.m.; the body was confirmed to be Rivera’s at a press conference held later that day. She was officially declared dead on July 13. The Ventura County sheriff suggested that Rivera and Josey may have gotten caught during a current, which may be common within the area, especially during the afternoon, which she “mustered enough energy to save her son, but not enough to save herself”.