July 9, 2022 | 12:01pm
Friday marked two years to the day since Naya Rivera drowned in the Lake Piru reservoir in Southern California, and the sad anniversary did not pass unnoticed by her “Glee” co-stars, who took to Instagram to share tributes to the late actress, singer and model.
“Everyday my angel. I miss you every damn day,” is how Heather Morris, 35, captioned a couple of snapshots capturing the two IRL-friends goofing around. On “Glee,” the pair played the glee club’s resident popular-crowd cheerleader duo — who are eventually revealed to have romantic feelings for each other.
Kevin McHale, 34, who depicted Artie on the show, posted a photo of Rivera striking a peace sign from the back of what appears to be a motorboat, writing, “The best there ever was forever & ever ♥️.”
On July 8, 2020, 33-year-old Rivera disappeared off a rented pontoon boat she had taken out on Lake Piru in Ventura County, Calif., with her then-4-year-old, Josey, for what should have been an idyllic mother-son afternoon. Instead, Rivera’s body was discovered five days later, her cause of death eventually determined to have been an accidental drowning.
Josey recounted a harrowing narrative to investigators, describing how his mother had pushed him onto the boat but was unable to hoist herself back up onto its deck, and called out “Help!” before sinking below the water’s surface.
A search-and-rescue diver working to recover Rivera’s body at the time speculated that strong winds over the reservoir — combined with her lack of a life vest upon jumping off the pontoon and into the lake with a life vest-clad Josey — may have factored into the tragedy.
“What I suspect is that the winds kicked up. Those pontoon boats are very light, and when you push them, it can get away from you. She might’ve tried to swim after the boat,” the diver, Robert Inglis, told US Weekly, adding that what “contributes to a lot of the drownings is when people go swimming and they are not wearing their life vests.”
“Winds do kick up at that lake, and the boats start to get away and you are trying to go after that boat … you could get a leg cramp,” he continued. “If you are wearing a life vest, you could rest and someone can go back and pick you up, or call for help or something like that.”