Entertainment & Arts

Naya Rivera: Glee star died of accidental drowning, California officials say

Naya Rivera Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Co-stars reflected on Rivera's sense of humour and moral support

Actress Naya Rivera died of accidental drowning, officials in California have said after a post-mortem examination.

"The cause of death is drowning, and the manner of death is accident," the Ventura County's Medical Examiner said.

The 33-year-old, best known for playing cheerleader Santana Lopez in Glee, went missing during last Wednesday's boat trip with her son at Lake Piru.

After a long search, divers found her body on Monday, prompting an outpouring of love and sympathy from her co-stars.

Rivera was first reported missing last Wednesday, after she had rented a pontoon boat with her four-year-old son at Lake Piru, north-west of Los Angeles.

The boy told police she pushed him back into the boat before disappearing beneath the surface.

On Monday, Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub suggested the lake's currents could have caused difficulties.

"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.

The child was found alone and asleep in the boat by a leasing agent after it was not returned. He was wearing a life jacket, but his mother was not.

Rivera's body was found exactly seven years after her Glee co-star, Cory Monteith, was found dead in a Vancouver hotel room of an overdose of heroin and alcohol.

Glee, the musical comedy TV series, ran on the Fox network from 2009 to 2015.

What did the Medical Examiner say?

In a statement posted on Twitter, the Ventura County's Medical Examiner said that Rivera's body "has been X-rayed and a full autopsy has been performed".

They said: "The autopsy findings are consistent with a drowning and the condition of the body is consistent with the time that she was submerged.

"No traumatic injuries or disease processes were identified at autopsy.

"There is no indication from the investigation or examination that drugs or alcohol played a role in the decedent's death, but specimens will be submitted for toxicology testing."

Who was Naya Rivera?

Rivera began her career as a child actress and model, appearing in TV commercials in the US.

As a four-year-old, she starred in the Royal Family sitcom on CBS and had a number of other TV appearances.

But it was playing cold-hearted Santana Lopez in Glee that made her a star.

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Media captionLast footage of Glee star before disappearance

In 2014, Rivera starred in the horror film At the Devil's Door.

The same year she married fellow actor Ryan Dorsey - who is the father of her son. When the couple divorced in 2018, they were granted joint custody.

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