Naya Rivera autopsy confirms accidental death by drowning

Actress Naya Rivera on the "Glee" panel at the 2010 San Diego Comic Con in San Diego, California. Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.
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Valencia native and “Glee” actress Naya Rivera died by drowning in Lake Piru as a result of an accident, according to an autopsy released Tuesday by the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office. 

“The body has been X-rayed and a full autopsy has been performed,” read the report. “The autopsy findings are consistent with a drowning, and the condition of the body is consistent with the time that she was submerged.” 

Based on the investigation and examination, there is no indication that drugs or alcohol played a role in Rivera’s death, and no traumatic injuries or disease processes were identified at autopsy, the report added. 

The 33-year-old was first reported missing July 8 after a boat she rented with her 4-year-old son did not return by the scheduled time and was instead found on the north end of Lake Piru. Her son was found asleep on the boat while wearing a life vest and wrapped in a towel.  

Authorities learned from the boy that he and his mother had gone swimming at some point during their trip. Rivera helped her son back inside the boat, but, “He looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water,” said Ventura County Sheriff William Ayub during a press conference on Monday afternoon. 

“She mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat but not enough to save herself,” he said. 

Rivera’s body was found Monday around 9:10 a.m. floating on the surface of the water, according to Ayub. 

Her disappearance led to a multi-day search that involved dozens of personnel, watercraft and helicopters across several agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.  

Ayub described the search as a challenging one considering heavy brush and trees that had grown up to 20 feet in height underwater. Swimming at the lake is not prohibited but authorities do not recommend doing so due to the dangers of whirlpools and heavy brush. 

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