The actress was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California, on July 24, according to her death certificate. The document confirmed that Rivera’s cause of death was drowning, and added that she died within “minutes” of being underwater. There was no mention of other significant health issues that could have played a role in the star’s death.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, Rivera rented a pontoon with her son, Josey Hollis Dorsey, on July 8, and headed out for a day on Lake Piru. The 4-year-old boy was later discovered alone on the watercraft, and Rivera was declared missing after he explained to authorities that he saw his mother disappear under the surface of the water. On July 13, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office announced it had recovered a body, which was later confirmed to be Rivera.
Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub speculated that the 33-year-old mother may have gotten into a bit of difficulty as she tried to return to the pontoon after swimming with her son, according to a report from Entertainment Tonight.
“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,” he said.
Robert Inglis, who was a diver assigned to the search and rescue team, also offered insight as to what may have happened to Rivera on the day she died.
“[Something] that contributes to a lot of the drownings is when people go swimming and they are not wearing their life vests,” he told Us Weekly. “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.”
Initial reports indicated that there was an adult-sized life jacket found on the watercraft, which led authorities to believe that Rivera had not been wearing one at the time. This was later confirmed when the body was pulled from the lake.
Rivera’s family released a statement expressing their gratitude for the outpouring of love and prayers. They also thanked the men and women of the Ventura, Tulare, and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Departments for their efforts in locating the actress, before asking the public to respect their privacy.