The family of Naya Rivera pays tribute to their “sassy angel” after the “Glee” actress’ cause of death was announced.
On Tuesday, a day after Rivera’s body was found in the northeast portion of Lake Piru, the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled her death to be an accidental drowning.
Though toxicology tests will be conducted, the report indicates there was no evidence of drugs or alcohol playing a role in her passing. The autopsy also found no traumatic injuries or disease.
Additionally, Rivera’s body was formally identified through the use of dental records.
After these findings were released, Rivera’s family put out a statement to Deadline through Naya’s manager Gladys Gonzalez.
“We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers for Naya, [her 4-year-old son] Josey and our family over the past week. 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,” it read.
“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. 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. We kindly request that our privacy be respected during this very difficult time,” it concluded.
Last Wednesday, Rivera disappeared after embarking on a boating trip with her son Josey near Ventura, California. Short before 5 p.m. that day, the young boy was found sleeping alone on the boat wearing a life jacket.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub told reporters that it is possible that Rivera spent her final moments saving her son Josey from drowning.
“We know from speaking with her son, that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point during their journey. It was during that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind,” the sheriff said. “He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water.”
Ayub continued, “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.”
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Naya’s family and loved ones during this difficult time.