Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, who were behind the popular Fox show, announced on Tuesday, July 14, while sharing a touching tribute to the late actress, that they were “currently in the process of creating a college fund for the beautiful son Naya loved most of all.”
“We are heartbroken over the loss of our friend Naya Rivera. Naya wasn’t a series regular when we cast her on Glee. She didn’t have more than a few lines in the pilot. But it didn’t take more than an episode or two for us to realize that we had lucked into finding one of the most talented, special stars we would ever have the pleasure of working with,” they wrote in a powerful statement. “Naya could act, she could dance, and she could sing (could she ever sing!) She could nail a joke as well as she could crush you with an emotional scene. She could move between being scary tough and deeply vulnerable with ease. She was a joy to write for, a joy to direct and a joy to be around.”
For those who missed it, the 33-year-old rented a motorized pontoon boat on Lake Piru near Los Angeles, CA, on Wednesday, July 8. But when she didn’t return on time, the staff went looking for her and discovered her 4-year-old son sleeping alone in the boat.
Then, during a press conference on Monday, the police confirmed that they had found Naya’s body in the lake.
“Based off the location where the body was found, the physical characteristics of the body, the clothing found on the body and physical condition of the body, as well as the absence of any other person missing from the area, we are confident that the body we found is that of Naya Rivera,” authorities said. “There is no indication that there was foul play and no indication that this was a suicide.”
“It was one of the first times an openly lesbian, high school relationship was seen on network television and Naya understood what ‘Brittana’ meant to the many young women who were seeing themselves represented on television for the first time,” the showrunners continued, referring to her character, Santana Lopez’s relationship with Heather Morris‘ character, Brittany Pierce. “Naya always made sure that Santana’s love for Brittany was expressed with dignity, strength and with pure intentions. Naya was always moved by the girls who reached out to her to tell her how much Santana and Brittany’s love affected them. Naya’s obligation to them — and to all of her fans — was obvious. She had the rare combination of humility and endless confidence in her talent.”
They described the brunette beauty as “warm and caring” and “tough and demanding.”
“She was fun. She was kind. She was generous,” they added. “There were ups and downs during the wonderful and stressful years we spent making Glee. We disagreed, we fought, we made up, then we fought some more, than we made up again. The kinds of things that happen in a family. Naya was more than just an actor on our show — she was our friend.”
The Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed on Tuesday, July 14, that after completing an autopsy, Naya’s cause of death was drowning.
“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 press release read. “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. No traumatic injuries or disease processes were identified at autopsy.”
The office concluded, “There is no indication from the investigation or examination that drugs or alcohol played a role in the decedent’s death, but specimens will be submitted for toxicology testing.”
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