As the search for Naya Rivera continues, Robert Inglis of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue Team is giving Us Weekly more insight into what may have happened to the Glee star at Lake Piru.
“The best thing that we can say that contributes to a lot of the drownings is when people go swimming and they are not wearing their life vests. And they jumped off the boat,” Inglis told Us. “It doesn’t take much to get exhausted if you’re not in shape. 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. 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.”
He added that “people who are muscular” do not float as easily.
“So in scuba instruction, we have to teach a 10-minute tread water float, and I’ve had divers who are super muscular,” Inglis said. “They struggle because they are sinking. They can’t float. 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.“
Us confirmed on Wednesday, July 8, that officers were looking for Rivera, 33, after she was 30 minutes late to return a pontoon boat she rented with her 4-year-old son. While Josey, who Rivera shares with ex-husband Ryan Dorsey, was wearing a life jacket when he was found sleeping in the boat, the actress’ personal flotation device was also on board.
According to Inglis, who dove during the first 48 hours after Rivera was reported missing, Lake Piru isn’t more susceptible to drowning deaths than other lakes.
“We’ve been in that lake many times. I’ve been at the dam. I go to the deepest point. There is no rip current, there are no whirlpools,” he told Us, noting that he’s been on the dive team for five years. “I think it was seven years before, or seven years ago that they did have drowning in that lake.” (According to the Los Angeles Times, at least eight people have drowned in Lake Piru since 1994. The most recent reported incident was in 2008.)
Inglis added that the lake may have relatively calm waters, but it’s easy to get tired swimming.
“If you’re not familiar with the boat and getting on and off the boat, you can get tired just climbing onto the boat. You can fall back in, people hit their heads, things like that,” he told Us. “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. 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.”
Inglis reiterated that it’s likely the wind played a factor.
“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,” Inglis said, noting that he is confident that the team will find Rivera. “But that’s all speculation. Once we do locate her, that’ll answer a lot more questions.”
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