‘Glee’ star Naya Rivera’s death ruled accidental drowning


LOS ANGELES (News Nation) — “Glee” star Naya Rivera died of accidental drowning, the Ventura County medical examiner said on Tuesday, marking the third tragic passing of a cast member from the popular television musical series.

Rivera, 33, was found in Lake Piru, near Los Angeles, on Monday, five days after going missing on a boating trip with her young son.

The medical examiner’s report said there was no indication that drugs or alcohol played a role in her death and no traumatic injuries or other medical conditions.

Rivera played cheerleader Santana Lopez on the 2009-2015 TV series about a high-school choir. Her drowning followed the drug overdose in 2013 of actor Cory Monteith, who played footballer Finn, and the 2018 suicide of Mark Salling (Puck) after pleading guilty of possession of child pornography.

Rivera’s body was recovered near the surface of the water, in an area where the boat was found, that was 35 to 60 feet deep and with heavy brush and trees underwater, officials said.

A Ventura County Sheriff’s boat is seen in Lake Piru, Calif., Monday, July 13, 2020. Ventura County Sheriff’s officials confirmed Monday that they have found the body of “Glee” star Naya Rivera in the lake, where they have been searching since her disappearance last week. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Rivera’s 4-year-old son, Josey, who was discovered alone and sleeping on the boat, told authorities he and his mother had both gone swimming in the lake, a recreational reservoir about 50 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

Sheriff’s officials in charge of the search said on Monday it was not clear what happened, but that Rivera’s son had told investigators his mother pushed him back into the boat but did not get back in herself. Rivera was not wearing a life vest.

The creators of “Glee,” Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, said Tuesday they were setting up a college fund for Rivera’s son.

“She was fun. She was kind. She was generous. Naya was more than just an actor on our show – she was our friend.”

Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan said in a statement

Thousands have signed an online petition calling for warning signs around Lake Piru, News Nation affiliate KTLA reports.

“Naya Rivera is not the first, nor the last to go missing at Lake Piru,” the petition reads. “Lake Piru is a very deep lake with very bad whirlpools, people have been asking for years for the city to put up warning signs for swimmers.”

The Change.org petition had garnered 40,650 signatures as of Wednesday morning.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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