Naya Rivera spent her final moments doing what a selfless, loving mother does—saving her son’s life.

Four-year-old Josey Hollis Dorsey was found alone and asleep, wrapped in a towel and wearing a life vest, on a drifting pontoon boat about three hours after they launched on Lake Piru, northwest of Los Angeles, last week. Officials said in a news conference Monday that the boat was unanchored when the two went swimming in the lake, which often has currents.

“She must have mustered enough energy to get her son back on the boat, but not enough to save herself,” Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said at the news conference.

The mother and son had gone swimming that day, which was permitted in that part of the lake, Ayub said. But unfortunately, Rivera was not wearing a life vest.

“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.”

Rivera’s body was identified by authorities Monday following its recovery from Lake Piru earlier in the day. Authorities, who had searched for five days, believed that Rivera drowned accidentally and that her body was most likely trapped in the vegetation under the lake for several days before floating to the top, Ayub said.

Divers had already thoroughly searched the area where she was eventually found, but shrubbery that had grown wildly in the area, which was recently dry, must have kept her hidden in the murky water, officials noted.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Rivera’s family and friends.


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