Known fondly by the nickname Nay Nay, Naya Marie Rivera was born in Valencia, California on 12 January 1987 and died July 8, 2020, in Lake Piru in the Los Padres National Forest near Fillmore, California. She was an actress, singer, and model, most popularly known for her role as the cheerleader. Santana Lopez in the TV series Glee.

No one wants to remember Naya Rivera’s final moments as the actress died way too young at the age of 33. Heartbreaking details surrounding the death of the actress have been revealed.

Naya Rivera’s final moments – Lake Piru claims many lives

In 2020, July the 8th, Naya was declared missing after her 4-year-old son was found alone in Naya’s rented boat on Lake Piru, CA. After five days of searching, her body was found in the lake on July 13, 2020.

She disappeared below the waters of Lake Piru, presumed drowned. The lake offers different recreational facilities for boating, fishing, camping, and picnicking and there is also a full-service marina. 

Lake Piru claims many lives

Swimming in the lake has always been a popular activity, but this activity has been prohibited following Naya Rivera’s final moments there where it is believed the actress died. 

Because of harsh conditions complete with strong winds and currents, there have been a number of fatalities that have occurred at Lake Piru, and one which happened in 1994, was of a 27-year-old who drowned in the lake even though he was wearing a life jacket.

An accidental drowning

Details of Naya Rivera’s final moments reveal that she was with her 4-year-old son. Details of these final moments were revealed in the autopsy report released on September 11th, 2020. The report reveals that the actress accidentally drowned at what is known as Diablo Cove after she and her son Josey had rented a boat to spend on the lake. Naya Rivera’s final text message just before her disappearance on Wednesday was ‘We found where that cove was’. 

The message as to Naya Rivera’s final moments gave authorities an idea as to where to include their search for her body. This text message was sent to a family member of Naya’s. Naya Rivera’s final photo was a lovely picture of herself and her little son smiling happily together. 

It has been revealed she sent a photo to a family member from the boat she had rented with her son. The photo was taken about 90 minutes to 2 hours before he was discovered alone on the boat at Lake Piru and fast asleep. 

This was also Naya Rivera’s final tweet as the actress shared a photo on social media of herself and Josey kissing and loving each other. She captioned the photo on Twitter as ‘Just the two of us’. 

The picture and message of Naya Rivera’s final moments have left many of the star’s fans in tears and the tweet on Twitter went viral. 

There were no witnesses to Naya Rivera’s final moments and the authorities had to rely on information from the small boy as to what all transpired with Naya Rivera’s final moments. Divers were sent to the cove area, but it was only on day 6 of the search that a body was found. Just before a press conference on Monday, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that the body was indeed that of the 33-year-old actress. The cause of death was not known at that time. 

Before the fateful day of 8th July 2020, not that many people knew the name, Naya Rivera. Yes, she was a Hollywood actress and singer, but she was known to a limited number of fans. 

Naya Rivera started her screen career as a child and landed a role in a CBS comedy known as ‘The Royal Family’, receiving a Young Artist Award Nomination. She also made an appearance in popular shows such as Baywatch and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, 

Early Life and Career

Rivera grew up in Valencia, Santa Clarita, CA, and lived in and around Los Angeles for most of her life. When she was nine months old, she began to be represented by the same talent agent as her mother, who had moved to Los Angeles to pursue a modeling career. Rivera began writing songs when she was 15 years old.

As an infant, Rivera starred in Kmart commercials, however, she bagged her first major acting role when she was four. She played the role of Hillary Winston in the sitcom The Royal Family in the year 1991, as mentioned above. 

Naya’s rise to fame

In the year 2009, Rivera got the role of Santana Lopez in Fox’s comedy series Glee – a series about a bunch of high school students who are part of the Glee Club. Her character appears as evil and cold-hearted cheerleader, who time and again shows her softer side to her friend and cheerleader Brittany.

Rivera used her own experiences from high school to prepare herself for the reel character. She also watched movies like Mean Girls for inspiration for the role. 

She portrayed Santana as “a little bad girl” who’s sarcastic and always has these cool one-liners that she throws out. It was during the production of ‘Glee’ that Naya Rivera had a 3-year relationship with Mark Salling. 

The relationship ended when Salling was arrested for being in possession of pornographic images of young children. He committed suicide in 2018, possibly to avoid the 7-year prison sentence that waited for him. 

It is weird that Rivera admitted to not being totally shocked by the news of Salling’s dark side. It is perhaps her relationship with such a character and her claiming that he pushed her to use drugs that could possibly explain the depression she seemed to battle with. Nonetheless, she seemed to be somewhat relieved when the relationship came to an end. 

Rivera seemed to attract unfortunate relationships and later she dated rapper Big Sean, but he called off their engagement saying she was just too controlling. Just a few months later she married Ryan Dorsey.

Mental health issues

Naya Rivera has had her fair share of mental health issues. She found out that she was pregnant in 2010. She had just broken up with her boyfriend, Ryan Dorsey, so as to focus on her career and she opted to have an abortion on her next day off. 

The decision to terminate a pregnancy is not easy regardless of how badly a person wants the abortion. Sometimes the abortion is not the preferred choice but the person goes ahead with it anyway. Naya Rivera possibly had mixed feelings after the procedure. The 29-year-old actress wrote about this time in her life in a memoir, ‘Sorry Not Sorry’. 

She knew that the abortion would possibly cause shock for some of her fans, but as a democrat she no doubt supported what Biden would later say ‘ Reproductive rights are a constitutional right, and every woman should have that right.

Nonetheless, she felt the need to tell her story to her fans and to also tell them about her long struggle with anorexia as a teen. She wanted other people to get something out of her story, to perhaps learn from it. She is one of the many celebrities who have been willing to share some of their deep personal issues with their fans and the public. 

She herself has battled with abortion issues, mental health issues, and addiction. Many of her fans, because of this history, believe that Naya Rivera’s final moments were a decision to commit suicide, They believed that she also suffered from depression.

There are all kinds of revelations that are found in gossip blogs and cheap magazine covers. These suggestions have, of course, aroused the suspicion of cynics, questioning whether the star’s ‘shady’ past may have been a reason for depression and taking her own life. 

Naya Rivera’s final interview

Nobody could ever have known what a terrible tragedy would happen in the life of the ‘Glee’ star and the nature of Naya Rivera’s final moments. Naya Rivera’s final interview was thought to have been an episode of Netflix’s competition series – the Sugar Rush. It seems however as if this was not so and an episode of The Eric Andre Show was filmed before Naya Rivera’s final moments.

Naya Rivera’s final interview

It is a comedy series that airs on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. On this show, Eric Andre did not shed any light as to when the show was filmed but a couple would be scheduled later on, possibly in November. So it seems as if her final TV appearance was a guest spot on The Eric Andre Show. 

The actress wrote in one of her final Instagram posts – thought to be Naya Rivera’s final post, ‘No matter the year, circumstance, or strife, every day you are alive is a blessing. She went on to say ‘Make the most of today and every day you are given. Naya captioned the post, ‘Tomorrow is not promised’ and it is attached to a photo of the actress sitting with her knees against her chest. This she wrote just 5 days before her death.

It was her last social media post before she went missing that has left so many of her fans gasping for more information on Naya Rivera’s final moments in the lake of death. 

Naya Rivera’s final video seemed to indicate that everything was alright and that she was in fact, making the most of the beautiful, sunny day that had been given to her. 

She was spending the day with one of her most favorite people – her son. She used to refer to him as ‘her whole world’. The last video shows Naya Rivera before she went missing. It shows her and her young son heading down the dock and to who knows what at that stage.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department released the final video of the actress. It was taken on a closed-circuit TV camera at about 1 pm on July 8. It shows Naya and her son arriving in a Mercedes G-Wagon. 

Many of the star’s fans do not want to believe that Naya Rivera’s final moments were an ordinary drowning. They are assuming that she suffered silently from depression and that she may well have taken her own life.

There is no clear evidence to suggest that Rivera was suffering from depression, but her fans say that people living with depression often live with it silently. 

An extensive 5-day search

No one can give an account of being a witness to the star’s depression and did she suffer from such debilitating depression as to lead her to take her own life in the lake? Her body was found so her fans can rejoice that Naya Rivera’s final resting place was not the cold, unwelcoming Southern California lake. 

The lake has been the site of quite a few drownings already because of its treacherous conditions. People going onto the lake have to wear life jackets. The star’s young son had a life jacket on when authorities found him on the boat. Mystery surrounds the drowning though as Naya Rivera’s life jacket was found inside the boat. 

Why didn’t she put her life jacket on before entering the water with her son? Did she want to drown? 

Naya Rivera’s final moments

Apparently, according to reports, she and her son counted to 3 and then both jumped into the water to swim. This was at Diablo Cove. It was not long after they had started swimming that Naya Rivera’s final moments came. 

Maybe she was having a heart attack or maybe she realized that something else was wrong with her and she needed to get her son out of the water and back into the boat, She quickly helped her son back into the boat as her last heroic deed, called out ‘help’ and disappeared below the water.

Later on, an autopsy that was released revealed that Naya Rivera’s final moments were of her raising her arm and calling for help. Pathologists and medical experts believe that autopsies after death are a quality assessment tool when you need to find out the exact cause and circumstances surrounding a death. Because of the disparity in skill levels among the different people who perform autopsies, the results of an autopsy can vary. 

A medical examiner tells us that her toxicology report shows therapeutic levels of phentermine, amphetamine, and diazepam as well as caffeine, and a blood alcohol concentration of 0.016%. So in effect, Rivera had alcohol and prescription meds in her system when she drowned.

Conflicting reports

And yet there are conflicting reports about Naya Rivera’s alcohol and drug consumption and some reports say that ‘according to the Medical Examiner, the body of Naya had no signs of struggle and that the cause of death was drowning. The report then goes on to say that the actress did not have any trace of alcohol or drugs in her body at the moment of the accident. So nobody can be 100% sure as to what the truth is.

Based on the autopsy findings and the absence of a toxicological explanation for the death, the cause of death for the actress always remains as accidental drowning. Investigators also found a few items in Naya Rivera’s purse – some syringes with a pink liquid in them, and a filled prescription slip for amphetamine.

Amphetamine is a strong stimulator of the central nervous system. It is highly addictive. Amphetamine sulfate, or speed, is used for recreational and non-medical purposes and it can lead to euphoria.

If it is not used for medical purposes it can have severe adverse effects. Apart from this, there were also three 12 ounces White Claw alcohol cans. One was empty and one had been opened and was about ¾ full. The actress had just recently had a sinus infection and she also had a history of vertigo. She had just recently been treated for this ailment which could worsen when she was in the water. 

It is interesting to note that a report of Naya Rivera’s final moments states that a rental employee offered the actress a life jacket, but it was declined. The employee said that he provided the rental boat together with a life jacket but the actress opted not to wear the jacket and it was found inside the boat, unused.

So many unanswered questions

When speaking about Naya Rivera’s final moments, the actress’s mom said that her daughter could swim well. She also told authorities that her daughter was intending to have a barbecue at Lake Piru, but she rented the boat instead. Her intentions to have a barbecue might have been there as investigators did find a bag of charcoal in her car and there were also food items found on the boat. Did the actress have a sudden change of plan?

Naya Rivera’s final moments might be fairly clear, but her death has left her friends and family with lots of unanswered questions. The details took a long time to be pieced together, and to this day her death may be listed as ‘accidental drowning’, but there are still grey areas.

Naya Rivera was married to Bosch and Yellowstone actor Ryan Dorsey. She has had other relationships and was engaged to musician Big Sean at one time. She and Dorsey got divorced in 2018 and Josey is the pair’s only child. The actress also has a younger brother Mychal and a younger sister Nickayla. Some interesting trivia about the star is that she had 6 tattoos, she dedicated her time to different charity organizations, she loved to read and she auditioned for American Idol: The Search for a Superstar (2002) but did not make the cut.

Naya Rivera’s final moments have been the source of much thought and concern for all her friends, fans, and family. People have poured out their love and support to her parents, her son, and ex-husband. Glee producers Brad Falchuk, Ryan Murphy, and Ian Brennan have even set up a college fund for her son Josey. 

Her family has thanked everyone for this outpouring of love in a message that was shared on 15 July. Her ex-husband posted on Instagram after the funeral that he is finding it hard to accept that she is gone but he is determined to be a good father for his son Josey

He is currently getting a lot of help and support from Naya’s sister, but to date, we have not heard of there being any romantic connections between the two. 

Naya Rivera’s final resting place

Naya Rivera’s final moments are long over and the actress had a private funeral where she was laid to rest. Naya Rivera’s final resting place is at Forest Memorial Park in Los Angeles. The funeral, held on July 24m was attended by just a few friends and family, seeing that it was also held in the middle of the pandemic. At the funeral, her sister, Nickayla, shared a tribute, saying that her sister was her rock. According to CBS, many fans came to the area of Lake Piru to hold their own vigil for the departed star.

A bright future for Naya’s son

It has been a very difficult time for her family to think of Naya Rivera’s final moments, but her son, the love of her life, is now doing well with his father and understands that his mother is gone. Everyone in the little boy’s life wants to be strong for him and to make sure that he can just be a normal 5-year-old who lost his mom but who still has a whole lot to live for. 

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