Tearful Dot-Marie Jones Recalls Visiting Lake Where Naya Rivera Was Found

Dot-Marie Jones, who played Coach Beiste on Glee, remembered the late Naya Rivera during a recent interview on The Talk. "She was a gift," Jones said.

By Elyse Dupre Jul 16, 2020 2:02 PMTags
Watch: Naya Rivera's Cause of Death Revealed

Dot-Marie Jones remembered the late Naya Rivera during a recent interview on The Talk.

"She was a gift," Jones, who acted alongside Rivera on Glee, told the hosts while wiping away tears. "It's hard to fathom, you know?....It's heartbreaking. It's one of those things you see on the news and then it's like, 'God bless those people.' And now, we're those people."

Rivera was found dead in California's Lake Piru on Monday, July 13. The recovery of her body came five days after the actress, who played Santana Lopez on the show, went missing while boating with her 4-year-old son Josey

Authorities, who conducted an extensive search for Rivera, later spoke to the child, who was found alone in the boat. According to Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub, Josey, who had gone swimming with Rivera, "described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him on to the deck from behind." In addition, Ayub said Josey "told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water."

"There are a lot of currents on the lake that appear particularly in the afternoon," Ayub added. "We believe it was mid-afternoon when she disappeared, 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."

The Ventura County Medical Examiner later determined the cause of death to be drowning and the manner of death to be an accident.

Naya Rivera: Life in Pictures

Ventura County Sheriff's Office Captain Eric Buschow told E! News Rivera's Glee "cast members and friends gathered for a prayer at the water's edge just before the body was found." Jones went to the lake the day before, as well.

"We had been in a group text the night before, and we'd planned to go out that night, but it was already coming on 5:00 p.m.," Jones, who played Coach Beiste, told The Talk hosts. "The lake, from where I live, is like 45 minutes away, an hour. The kids decided, 'Maybe we can just do it first thing in the morning.' I told Bridgett [Casteen], my wife, I just said, 'I gotta go.' And she said, 'I know you do.' And so, I went out there by myself and got there, probably about 6:00 p.m., and just cried, and prayed, and talked and, you know, told her she had to come home so we could all rest, and especially her mama and her family."

Rivera's body was also found on the seven-year anniversary of Cory Monteith's death.

"I know Cory had something to do with it. He had to 'cause, God bless, they found her on the anniversary, seventh anniversary of Cory's death, which is unfathomable," Jones said.

Jones described Rivera as a "good kid" and said the cast "loved her."

"Since day one, I told Bridgett, I said, 'I love her so much because she's the real deal. She's no BS. She's not fake. What you see is what you get,'" she said.

She also recalled a time the late actress showed her support. 

"My wife Bridgett had a massive stroke three years ago, and Naya was the first one to send me a message saying, 'Oh my God. I just heard about your beautiful wife and just sending you so much love,'" Jones said. "And then she wrote a bunch of stuff and then she attached a picture of little Josey and just said 'I hope this makes y'all smile.'"

Jason LaVeris for Getty Images, Shutterstock

Near the end of the interview, Jones spoke about the last time she saw Rivera, noting the two had bumped into each other at an airport in Atlanta.

"We hugged and kissed, and we had about a five-minute conversation," Jones said. "It had been, like, probably a year and a half and it was like no time had passed because it's who she is. It's just not fair." 

The full interview will air Friday, July 17.

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