As the year anniversary of Naya Rivera’s passing approaches, her family is reflecting on the tragedy.
As you’ll remember, the Glee alum was pronounced dead in July 2020 after her body was found floating in Lake Piru in Ventura County, California. The actress had taken her then 4-year-old son Josey Dorsey out on a pontoon boat and decided to go swimming. She is believed to have saved Josey by bringing him back to the boat before drowning.
In a heartbreaking revelation, her father George Rivera told People that the 33-year-old had called him shortly before jumping into the water. He shared:
“She would always bounce stuff off me. And she wanted to go swimming with Josey out in the middle of the lake.”
According to George, he tried to discourage her from swimming after learning the boat didn’t have an anchor. He recalled:
“I could see that the wind was blowing and my stomach was just cringing. I kept telling her, ‘Don’t get out of the boat! Don’t get out of the boat! It will drift away when you’re in the water.’”
Sadly, the FaceTime call cut out shortly after. The 64-year-old still has a screenshot from that day, of Naya “in sunglasses and a baseball cap, grinning beneath the boat’s canopy with a bright blue sky overhead.” He said:
“It was just heartbreaking,”
After hanging up, he explained:
“I had this bad feeling that was just killing me.”
Hours later, employees sought out the boat after the rental wasn’t returned at the appropriate time. They found Josey sleeping alone in the boat, with his mother nowhere to be found. Her disappearance kicked off a five-day search, which concluded when her body was found.
Since then, her family and friends have been carrying on her legacy. Ex-husband Ryan Dorsey has paid tribute to the Step Up: High Water alum on Instagram, while the Glee cast recently reunited to honor her at the GLAAD Awards. Meanwhile, George has been sharing memories of his daughter on Twitter, and has hinted at writing a book.
He reflected to People:
“It’s still pretty much a big blur of pain almost a year later. Things are slowly coming a little more into focus, but I don’t know if I’ll ever find closure from this. I miss her every day.”
The tragedy of Naya’s passing is still a shock for us as fans, so we can’t imagine how her loved ones feel. We hope George and the whole Rivera family are taking care of themselves ahead of this devastating anniversary.
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