UPDATE (7/14/20 5pm ET): Naya Rivera died from drowning, the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s office has confirmed. “The autopsy findings are consistent with a drowning and the condition of the body is consistent with the time that she was submerged,” the office announced in a July 14 statement. It added that, “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.”
The attached document was just released by the Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office regarding Naya Rivera, whose body was found yesterday in Lake Piru. pic.twitter.com/6APEgrBPaQ
— Ventura Co. Sheriff (@VENTURASHERIFF) July 14, 2020
Naya Rivera was pronounced dead on July 13 — which also happens to be Cory Monteith‘s death date — five days after she went missing while boating on Lake Piru, a law enforcement source confirmed to HollywoodLife. Rescuers feverishly searched for the Glee star, 33, after she vanished from the Southern California lake. Naya had rented a boat with her son, Josey, 4, but never returned to the dock that evening. Three hours after they left the dock, another boater discovered Josey asleep onboard the boat, with Naya nowhere to be found.
Earlier in the day on July 13, the Ventura Sheriff’s department confirmed that a body had been found that morning. And just moments before a press conference was scheduled to commence that afternoon, HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY discovered the body was identified as Naya. Ventura County Sheriffs Dept. further told HollywoodLife, “There were some [family members] here this morning — they came to the water’s edge to pray, shortly thereafter she was located.”
During the press conference, Ventura County Sheriff said, “We are confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera,” and that conclusion was “based on the location, physical characteristics, clothing and the physical condition of the body, as well the absence of any other missing persons”. The Sheriff went on to say that Naya was found at the northeast portion of the lake, on the surface of the water, which is 35-60 feet deep with heavy brush and trees on the lake bed. The police believe she was in that area when she was swimming. “[There was] no indication of foul play and no indication that this was a suicide,” the sheriff added.
BREAKING: California officials are "confident" the body they found is that of missing “Glee” star Naya Rivera.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) July 13, 2020
“We do believe she was in that area [The Narrows] when she went swimming, based on our conversations with her son, [and] the information that we had from the witnesses in the area,” the sheriff continued. “The search effort had been focused in that area. As I mentioned, there’s heavy rush 15 to 20 feet in height that had grown when the lake was drier, and that was an empty Canyon on the [inaudible] to the lake itself. And so you had a lot of growth that sprung up there when the lake refilled with water, that growth remained and made it very, very difficult for divers, for sonar operators, for searchers, to search that area. We did focus on that area we had our entire dive team scour in that area yesterday, and were not able to find her. We believe she was concealed within some of the shrubbery on the floor bed of the lake.”
The Sheriff said Naya did not have a life jacket on when she disappeared, however, there was an adult life jacket on the boat when her son was found. Naya’s body also looked like it had been in the water for several days. The body will be taken to the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office, where an autopsy and a positive identification through dental records will be conducted.
Sadly, Naya’s body was recovered on the same day that Glee co-star, Cory Monteith, died on July 13, 2013. Naya, who played Santana Lopez on the beloved FOX Musical comedy, leaves behind her adorable son, Josey. When found by rescuers, the four-year-old said that he and his mom went swimming, but that Naya didn’t get back on the boat. The pair were recently seen out grocery shopping together before the July 4th weekend.
Naya, who was previously married to Ryan Dorsey, is the third cast member of Glee to die under tragic circumstances. Mark Salling, who played Puck, killed himself on January 30, 2018 near his home in Los Angeles. Just a few months previously, Mark had pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, which would have landed him in jail for four to seven years and required him to register as a sex offender.
Cory Monteith, who played Lea Michele’s leading man Finn Hudson, suddenly died while the show was still on the air, losing his life to an alcohol and heroin overdose while the show was on hiatus. The devastating news left the cast and fans worldwide heartbroken, as they surely are now that Naya has been lost as well. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who loved Naya and is feeling the pain of her loss right now.