July 8, 2020, started off pleasantly for Yolanda Previtire, but it would soon turn into a nightmare for the mother of late Glee star Naya Rivera. In a new interview with ABC News and Good Morning America on the anniversary of the star’s death, Previtire and Rivera’s younger sister Nickayla Rivera discussed the heartbreak of losing the actress.
Previtire recalled the “beautiful morning” and FaceTime call she shared with her daughter that day. After learning that Naya was with her son Josey, then 4, fishing at California’s Lake Piru, Previtire remembered telling her daughter that “the water’s getting choppy,” and as she teared up, recalled telling Naya, “I love you. Call me — call me when you get off the water.”
After the actress failed to return their rented boat, Josey was found alone, asleep on the boat later that day, and the Glee star was missing. Rivera’s body was discovered five days later. Her death was ruled an accidental drowning; she was 33.
Previtire told ABC News what she felt when she first learned her daughter was missing. “It was almost like a force. I don’t know what it was,” she shared. “I literally was just pushed backwards, just screaming.”
“Those first five days were awful,” Nickayla said.
“Hell on Earth,” Previtire added. “My faith told me that nothing is missing, surely, not a person. ‘We just can’t find them.’ So that was my thing. ‘God, you know where she’s at, just bring her back to us.'”
Through tears, Previtire said that she had taken screenshots of her FaceTime chat with Naya, and with those, searchers were able to study the topography, which helped them determine the location.
Though Naya is gone, her mother and sister say they still feel they have a part of her with them. “Now I see Josey, and it’s almost like, it’s so reminiscent because he’s like a boy version of her in every sense of the word,” Previtire explained of the now 6-year-old. “Just his tenacity, his drive, his zeal, his adventure for life. He’s Naya in boy form!”
“He loves entertaining!” chimed in Nickayla, who is helping raise the little boy. “He loves singing at the top of his lungs.”
Previtire closed by reflecting on her daughter’s legacy. “I would like Naya’s legacy to be one that teaches people to love,” she shared. “Love who you are because you don’t get another life.”
Watch the interview below: