Glee star Naya Rivera's death declared an accident by medical examiner

14 July 2020, 11:00

Naya Rivera's death has been declared an accident
Naya Rivera's death has been declared an accident. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Glee star Naya Rivera's death has been declared an accident by the Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office.

A full autopsy has now been performed, with 33-year-old Rivera's death declared an accident. She drowned, the medical examiner said.

No traumatic injuries or evidence of disease were found - and there is no indication that alcohol or drugs played a part in Rivera's death, the medical examiner said.

But specimens from the body will be submitted for toxicology testing, they added.

The cast of Glee stood hand-in-hand in remembrance at the shore of a lake in southern California where the body of actress Naya Rivera was found.

Police last night confirmed that a body recovered from the lake was that of the 33-year-old actress who disappeared while on a boating trip with her four-year-old son at Lake Piru on Wednesday.

A rescue mission was launched and police later recovered her body from the water. Her son, Josey Hollis, was found asleep and wearing a life jacket on the boat, with his mother nowhere to be seen.

He told police he had seen her disappear beneath the surface.

The cast of Glee at the lake where Naya Rivera's body was found
The cast of Glee at the lake where Naya Rivera's body was found. Picture: ABC

Her co-stars on the musical-comedy series were among those paying tribute today.

Demi Lovato, who played Rivera's on-screen girlfriend on the show, said she will "forever cherish" starring alongside her.

READ MORE: Police find body in search for missing actress Naya Rivera

The singer posted pictures of the pair on set together and said: "The character you played was groundbreaking for tons of closeted (at the time) queer girls like me, and your ambition and accomplishments were inspiring to Latina women all over the world."

Lovato added: "My heart goes out to your loved ones at this time."

Darren Criss played Blaine Anderson on Glee and paid tribute to a "wild, hilarious, beautiful angel".

Naya Rivera's father, George Rivera, second from right, and mother Yolanda, second from left, with members of Ventura County Sheriff's Office, are seen in a boat after Naya Rivera's body was found in Lake Piru
Naya Rivera's father, George Rivera, second from right, and mother Yolanda, second from left, with members of Ventura County Sheriff's Office, are seen in a boat after Naya Rivera's body was found in Lake Piru. Picture: PA

He tweeted: "She played by her own rules and was in a class of her own. She had a brashness about her that I couldn't help but be enchanted by. I also always loved her voice, and savoured every chance I got to hear her sing. I think she had more talent than we would have ever been able to see."

Criss added: "And even as I sit here, struggling to comprehend, gutted beyond description- the very thought of her cracks me up and still brings a smile to my face. That was Naya's gift. And it's a gift that will never go away."

Jane Lynch, who played ruthless cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester, tweeted: "Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were. Love and peace to your family."

Chris Colfer shared a lengthy tribute on Instagram, celebrating his more than 10-year friendship with Rivera.

He wrote: "Her brilliance and humour were unmatched. Her beauty and talent were otherworldly. She spoke truth to power with poise and fearlessness. She could turn a bad day into a great day with a single remark.

"She inspired and uplifted people without even trying. Being close to her was both a badge of honour and a suit of armour. Naya was truly one of a kind, and she always will be."

Colfer, who played Kurt Hummel, added: "Sending all my love to her wonderful family and her beautiful son."

Lea Michele played Rachel Berry and posted a black and white picture of Rivera to her Instagram Story, as well as an image of Glee cast members at a beach.

Kevin McHale, who played Artie Abrams in Glee, said Rivera's death "doesn't make sense. And I know it probably never will".

In a long tribute posted on Instagram, he described the actress as " the most talented person I've ever known. There is nothing she couldn't do and I'm furious we won't get to see more".

CCTV from the dock showed her rented boat departing at about 1pm and it was later found drifting in the northern area of the lake at around 4pm.

On Sunday, police extended their search to the cabins and outbuildings around the lake - as well as taking another look at the shoreline.

Police said they were almost certain she was still in the water. Sonar had been used to scan the bottom of the lake while police divers and cadaver dogs also took part in the search.