Naya Rivera's cause of death has been ruled accidental drowning by the medical examiner in charge of the case. The actress best known for her role on the Fox musical Glee went missing last week after renting a boat with her son. Her body was recovered from Lake Piru on Monday. The actress' son had been found alone in the rented boat prior to the discovery of Rivera's body.
The Ventura County medical examiner confirmed Tuesday that Naya Rivera died from accidental drowning in Lake Piru. The Glee actress had been missing since last Wednesday, following the July 4th holiday weekend. No foul play was suspected prior to the ruling, and authorities believed her death was an accident prior to the eventual ruling. Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub had this to say during the Monday afternoon news conference following the discovery of Rivera's body.
"Based on the location where the body was found, the physical characteristics of the body, the clothing found on the body and the physical condition of the body, as well as the absence of any other persons reported missing in the area, we are confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera."
Suicide was ruled out, and there wasn't any indication of foul play in the death of Naya Rivera. Following the discovery of the body, Rivera was taken to the Ventura County medical examiner's office. An autopsy helped confirm the identity of the body found at Lake Piru. A positive identification was made using dental records. There were no signs of physical injury, and there were no diseases evident during the examination. There was no evidence of drugs or alcohol in Naya Rivera's system. The investigators did submit samples for a toxicology test.
Naya Rivera's body had been discovered at 9:10 am by search teams in the Lake Piru area. She was found floating in the NorthEastern part of the lake according to Capt. Eric Buschow of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department. Search teams had been extensively scouring the area for the past several days, using dive crews and sonar equipment. Visibility in the lake was very low, which extended the search period. Buschow offered this about the search.
"That particular area, when it was searched by divers, they were literally crawling on hands and knees at the bottom of the lake attached by ropes so they could make their way back out because visibility is so poor. That gives you kind of an idea of what the conditions were like."
It is suspected that Naya Rivera's body had been submerged for days, and was concealed by the high trees in the area, which grow to be 15-to-20 feet in height. Shortly after the discovery of her body, several of Naya's former Glee costars united at Lake Piru to pay tribute to the actress, along with members of Rivera's family. The family has also released a statement.
""We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers for Naya, Josey and our family over the past week. While we grieve the loss of our beautiful legend, we are blessed to honor her everlasting legacy and magnetic spirit," the statement continues. Naya was an amazing talent, but was an even greater person, mother, daughter and sister."
"Thank you to the men and women of the Ventura, Tulare, and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Departments for your commitment and unwavering effort to find Naya. We extend endless gratitude and ovation to the heroine who found her. Thank you to her friends, colleagues, and fans for your continuous support. Heaven gained our sassy angel. We kindly request that our privacy be respected during this very difficult time."
Naya Rivera played Santana Lopez on Glee from 2009 to 2015. She appeared on 113 episodes of the series, and was one of the many LGBTQ characters in the show. Naya Rivera is survived by her parents, Yolanda and George; her brother, Mychal; her sister, Nickayla; and son Josey. This news was first reported at The Los Angeles Times.