Naya Rivera’s Cause of Death: The ‘Glee’ Star Died by Accidental Drowning, Autopsy Reveals
One day after Naya Rivera’s body was found at Lake Piru, her cause of death was determined to be an accidental drowning, according to the coroner’s report on Tuesday, July 14.
“The body has been x-rayed and a full autopsy has been performed,” according to the press release from the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office. “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. 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.”
The Ventura County Sheriff’s department revealed they found a body on Monday, July 13. Later that day, they identified the body as Rivera based on clothing, condition, the location where the body was discovered and the lack of any other missing person reports in the area.
The Glee star was confirmed dead on July 13, nearly a week after she went missing at the Southern California reservoir on July 8. Rivera rented a pontoon boat for her and her son Josey Dorsey, 4, but hours later it “was found drifting in the northern portion of the lake with the child alone and asleep onboard,” according to Captain Eric Buschow of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. “Rivera’s son told investigators that he and his mother had been swimming in the lake, and he got back in the boat, but Rivera did not.”
The county exhausted every resource searching for Rivera, but after using “personnel, along with a helicopter, boat crews, divers and unmanned aerial vehicles,” on July 8, as well as “divers and sonar equipment” from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and “resources from neighboring counties and the United States Coast Guard,” on July 9, they announced the effort was no longer considered a rescue, but a recovery mission. “Investigators believe Rivera drowned in what appears to be a tragic accident,” said Buschow.
Later that day, the 911 call reporting Rivera missing was released to the public. The caller said they found the little boy on the boat alone but his mother was “nowhere to be found.”
It took three more days of intense searching before officials found Rivera’s body due to “difficult conditions [that] made the recovery operation a very slow process,” including high winds and murky water. On the morning of the 13th, Rivera’s body surfaced on its own. During a press conference held later that day, Sheriff Bill Ayub shared they believed the area where she was found is the same area where she went swimming.
“The search effort had been focused in that area,” he confirmed. “As I mentioned, there’s heavy brush, 15 to 20 feet in height, that had grown when the lake was drier. That was an empty canyon, the tributary into the lake itself, and so you had a lot of growth that sprung up there. When the lake refilled with water, that growth remained and made it very, very difficult for divers, for sonar operators and for searchers to search that area. … We had our entire dive team scouring that area yesterday, and they were not able to find her. We believe she was concealed within some of the shrubbery on the floor bed of the lake.”
Prior to her death, Rivera and her ex-husband, Ryan Dorsey, agreed to split legal and physical custody of their little boy, and it seems Dorsey has now taken over his full-time care. One day after Rivera went missing, Dorsey was spotted with his son, who is “in good health” following the traumatic experience, Buschow told Life & Style on July 9.
Rivera’s loved ones are “completely devastated.” Her family “feels like they’re living in a bad dream, they’re all still in disbelief,” an insider told In Touch exclusively, revealing “Josey is still asking for his mommy.” We hope with this new information, they can begin the healing process.