Washington, 14 July 2020 (dpa/MIA) – A body discovered in Lake Piru in southern California belonged to actress Naya Rivera, who starred in the hit television show “Glee,” the Ventura County Sheriff’s office confirmed Monday.
The actress had disappeared on Wednesday after renting a boat with her 4-year-old son. Officials said that they believed Rivera, 33, had drowned in an accident.
“Today our search teams have recovered a body in the lake. Based on the location where the body was found, physical characteristics of the body, clothing found on the body, and the physical condition of the body, as well as the absence of any other persons reported missing in the area, we are confident that the body we found is that of Naya Rivera,” Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said during a press conference.
The sheriff said there were no signs of suicide or of any crime in connection with her death.
Rivera’s son was discovered on Wednesday, sleeping in a rented boat alone but unharmed.
He told investigators that he and his mother had gone swimming together in Lake Piru, and that Rivera had helped him get back into the boat before she disappeared under the water, Sheriff Ayub said.
“Our hearts go out to her family, friends and fans during this difficult time. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of her death,” the Sheriff’s office said in a statement on Monday.
Rivera starred for six years as cheerleader Santana Lopez on “Glee,” a musical comedy that follows the lives of a high school glee club.
Her role as the quick-witted and often mean-spirited cheerleading captain who struggled to come to terms with her sexuality earned Rivera accolades.
Singer Demi Lovato, who played Santana’s girlfriend Dani in the show, wrote in a tribute on Twitter that Rivera was an inspiration.
“I’ll forever cherish the opportunity to play your girlfriend on Glee. The character you played was groundbreaking for tons of closeted (at the time) queer girls like me, and your ambition and accomplishments were inspiring to Latina women all over the world,” she wrote.
Alex Newell, who played the role of Unique Adams on “Glee,” wrote that Rivera was “truly a star” in an Instagram post.
“Glee” is one of the most successful musical series in the world and ran for six seasons from 2009 to 2015. Rivera’s death is not the first among its cast.
In 2013, 31-year-old Cory Monteith was found dead in a hotel in Vancouver, Canada. An autopsy showed a deadly mix of alcohol and drugs in his system.
Mark Salling, who played Noah “Puck” Puckerman, took his own life at the age of 35 in 2018. His suicide came shortly after he entered a guilty plea for possession of child pornography.