The former Glee star was reported missing on Wednesday following an outing to Lake Piru with her young son

By Jodi Guglielmi and Christine Pelisek
July 14, 2020 11:36 AM
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Naya Rivera's former costars sent the actress their love up until the very end.

Heather Morris and other Glee cast members were seen gathered together at Lake Piru on Monday, just hours before Rivera's body was found.

"Some of her cast members from Glee came to the lake and they were allowed to come down to the water's edge, and they, as a group, they prayed for her," Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Kevin Donoghue tells PEOPLE.

In footage captured by ABC 7, Morris, 33, who played Rivera's love interest on the musical comedy series, and several others were spotted holding hands as they looked out onto the body of water.

"And it was shortly after that, that her body was located," Donoghue says.

On Monday, authorities found Rivera's body. The actress had gone missing during a boat outing with her 4-year-old son, Josey, at Lake Piru in Ventura County, California, last week. She was 33.

Glee cast at Lake Piru
| Credit: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/Getty

Authorities said Monday that they believe Rivera died saving Josey.

"We know from speaking with her son, that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point during their journey," Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said at a news conference. "It was during that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water."

"The idea perhaps being that the boat started drifting, it was unanchored, and that she mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself," Ayub said.

The discovery came on the seventh anniversary of  Glee star Cory Monteith's death due to a “mixed drug toxicity” of heroin and alcohol. He was 31.

"I'm not religious by any means, but you'd be hard-pressed to convince me that Cory didn't help find our girl today. These 2, in many ways, were the male and female versions of one another," Kevin McHale, who played Artie Abrams on Glee, wrote on Twitter. "So nice, cared deeply, were stupidly talented, the most fun, and really really good people."

Costar Lea Michele, who was dating Monteith at the time of his death, shared black-and-white portraits of him and Rivera to her Instagram Story.

"She was bold," wrote Criss, 33, in a lengthy Instagram tribute to Rivera. "She was outrageous. She was a LOT of fun.⁣"

"Naya made me laugh like no one else on that set. I always said it while we were working together and I’ve maintained it ever since. Her playful, wicked sense of humor never ceased to bring a smile to my face," Criss continued, saying the actress was in a "class of her own."

"Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were," tweeted Jane Lynch, who played cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester on the Fox musical comedy. "Love and peace to your family."

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And Chris Colfer, who played Kurt Hummel, posted a lengthy caption alongside an Instagram photo of the pair.

"How can you convey all your love and respect for someone in one post? How can you summarize a decade of friendship and laughter with words alone?" he wrote. "If you were friends with Naya Rivera, you simply can't. Her brilliance and humor were unmatched. Her beauty and talent were otherworldly."

He continued: "She spoke truth to power with poise and fearlessness. She could turn a bad day into a great day with a single remark. She inspired and uplifted people without even trying. Being close to her was both a badge of honor and a suit of armor. Naya was truly one of a kind, and she always will be. Sending all my love to her wonderful family and her beautiful son."