Naya Rivera's drowning death in Lake Piru last week could have been contributed to by strong winds, Robert Inglis of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue Team told Us Weekly shortly before the Glee star's body was officially identified. While Inglis said that in his five years on the dive team he hadn't come across the rumored Lake Piru rip current or whirlpools, he did confirm that wind that can quickly push an unanchored boat away from a swimmer.
"The best thing that we can say that contributes to a lot of the drownings [at Lake Piru] is when people go swimming and they are not wearing their life vests. And they jumped off the boat," Inglis said, noting that it "doesn't take much" to become exhausted for people who are not conditioned. "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."
Inglis said he suspected in Rivera's case that winds did kick 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," he said. "But that’s all speculation." Inglis added the people who are muscular do not float easily, "so depending on the body tone of a person, you could get that feeling that you are being sucked down because you really just can’t float."
In his years on the search and rescue team, Inglis said he had seen people get tired from simply climbing on and off of the boat, which can cause them to fall and hit their heads. "There are some cases in lakes where one person is in the water, starts to drown, then someone else jumps in to try to save the other person," he continued. "The person drowning is saved and gets back on the boat, but the other person who jumped in to save them didn’t make it back into the boat."
Sheriff Bill Ayub announced later Monday that the body recovered that morning was indeed Rivera, and that based on an initial medical examination, there did not appear to be any foul play involved. A full medical examination will be performed nonetheless. Ayub said that Rivera's 4-year-old son Josey, who was found in the boat and wearing his mother's life vest on July 8 told police his mother had pushed him on board the boat, but when he turned around, she had gone underwater.