It’s almost been a year since Naya Rivera’s tragic death and her father, George Rivera, is still reeling.
Recalling his last FaceTime call with the American actress and singer, the 64-year-old says he’d begged her not to go into the water in Lake Piru, California, where she’d rented a boat that afternoon with her son, Josey.
“She would always bounce stuff off me,” he says. “And she wanted to go swimming with Josey out in the middle of the lake.”
Alarm bells went off when Naya (33) informed George, an avid boater who’d often visited the lake with her, that the boat she’d rented had no anchor.
“I could see that the wind was blowing and my stomach was just cringing,” he recalls.
“I kept telling her, ‘Don't get out of the boat! Don't get out of the boat! It will drift away when you're in the water’.”
Sadly, that would be the last conversation he’d have with his daughter. The call was cut short after three minutes.
“It was just heartbreaking,” says George, who took a screenshot of his daughter’s final moments under the boat's canopy. “I had this bad feeling that was just killing me.”
A couple of hours later his instinct proved correct when he received the shattering news that his grandson had been found asleep in the boat, his mother nowhere to be found.
Five days later Naya’s body was found in a remote section of the river.
While medical examinations found that she had exhausted herself as she tried to get Josey back into the safety of the boat after they’d gone for a swim, George is yet to find peace.
“It's still pretty much a big blur of pain almost a year later,” he explained.
“Things are slowly coming a little more into focus, but I don't know if I'll ever find closure from this. I miss her every day.”