Naya Rivera‘s family is speaking out about the inconceivable loss of the actress in an official statement that was released to Deadline on July 14, just one day after her body was found on Lake Piru. After being missing for five days, the Glee star’s passing at the age of 33 was confirmed by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, and friends and fans have been mourning ever since. Her manager, Gladys Gonzalez, released the statement to the outlet on the family’s behalf.
“We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers for Naya, Josey and our family over the past week,” the statment read. “While we grieve the loss of our beautiful legend, we are blessed to honor her everlasting legacy and magnetic spirit. 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,” it continued. “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,” the statement concluded. “We kindly request that our privacy be respected during this very difficult time.”
The statement is the first time any of Naya’s family members have spoken out since she went missing after renting a boat and going swimming at Lake Piru with her son Josey, 4, who was found safe, on July 8. An autopsy issued by the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that Naya died as a result of an accidental drowning, and during a press conference just hours after her body was found. Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub, who helped investigate the incident, said the investigation has led them to believe she “mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself.”
During the search, Naya’s family, including her mother, Yolanda, father, George, sister Nickayla, brother Mychal, and ex-husband Ryan Dorsey, were spotted at the site of her disappearance and their emotional reactions were truly devastating to see. Naya’s Glee co-stars were also seen at the lake holding hands and seemingly praying on the morning of July 13, shortly before her body was found on the surface of the water.
We are sending comfort and healing wishes to all those affected by Naya’s death.