Naya Rivera Confirmed Dead at 33
Update July 14, 2020, 6:30 EDT: The Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed that Naya Rivera's cause of death was was drowning by accident, Entertainment Tonight reports.
"The circumstances and visual characteristics all indicated that the body was that of Naya Rivera and the identity has been confirmed by dental comparison," a statement from the medical examiner's office reads. "The body has been X-rayed and a full autopsy has been performed. The autopsy findings are consistent with a drowning and the condition of the body is consistent with the time that she was submerged." The autopsy also revealed that there was "no traumatic injuries or disease processes were identified."
Naya Rivera passed away Wednesday evening, July 8, during a lake trip with her son. She was 33.
The actress and singer, best known for her performance as Santana Lopez on FOX musical series Glee, was confirmed dead on Monday after her body was found in California’s Lake Piru. Ventura County Sheriff, Bill Ayub, said in a press conference that they "are confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera." He also explained that the depth of the water in that area she was found was "between 35-60 feet deep." After speaking with her son, Ayub said authorities concluded that Naya may have saved her son but could not save herself. “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 sheriffs also sent condolences to friends, family, and fans and confirmed that "there was no indication of foul play and no indication of suicide."
Her body is being taken for an autopsy, where dental records will confirm that it is her.
News of Rivera’s disappearance and presumed death circulated widely on July 9 after the actress’s 4-year-old son Josey (whom Rivera shared with ex-husband Ryan Dorsey) was found alone in a boat on the lake the previous evening. Josey was wearing a life jacket and a second life jacket, presumably, Rivera’s, was also on board.
The search for Rivera began on Wednesday night — her body was found the following Monday morning. She was 33 years old.
In addition to her time on Glee, Rivera made a cultural impact with her 2013 single “Sorry,” and her 2016 memoir Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up, as well as web series Step Up: High Water.
But Rivera’s influence went far beyond the screen. In Glee, her character struggled with her sexuality for seasons before coming out as a lesbian. For many, this onscreen depiction was formative and vital to understanding and accepting their own sexuality.
“Honestly, I never thought I’d actually be playing a teen lesbian,” Rivera said in a 2011 interview with the Los Angeles Times. “I didn’t think it was going to go this far. But I’m glad that it did because there have been a lot of fans who have expressed that they’ve been going through similar situations in their lives. I’ve heard from girls that are in high school, they’re 16, 17, and they’re like, ‘I came out to my mom,’ or ‘I came out to my friends, and thank you for helping me do that.’”
This post was updated to include Rivera's cause of death.