VENTURA (CBSLA/AP) – The Ventura County Medical Examiner’s office Tuesday confirmed “Glee” actress Naya Rivera accidentally drowned in Lake Piru days before her body was found.
Rivera’s body was discovered five days after she disappeared on Lake Piru, where her son, Josey, was found July 8 alone on a boat the two had rented, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said. The Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the body was Rivera’s.
According to the examiner’s office, the autopsy findings were consistent with a drowning and no traumatic injuries or disease processes were identified.
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, authorities said.
A native of Santa Clarita, Rivera began acting at 4, appearing in such series as “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Family Matters” and “The Bernie Mac Show.” As a teen, she struggled with an eating disorder and had breast implants put in at 18 (“a confidence thing, not a sexual thing,” she would later write in her autobiography).
“I had the lowest self esteem in high school possible. I wasn’t popular, I didn’t have friends, but I would say it’s really important that you know who you are and you’re going to win in the end because of that,” Rivera said in a 2011 interview with The Associated Press.
She worked odd jobs as a telemarketer, a nanny, a waitress and an Abercrombie & Fitch greeter before landing the role of Santana Lopez on Ryan Murphy’s “Glee.” She auditioned by singing “Emotion.” The pilot offered her no speaking lines.
Rivera played a secondary character — the mean cheerleader with blistering put-downs — in the show’s first season, but became a show regular in the second season as she struggled to reveal her character’s sexual identity. Many on social media credited her character for making them feel better about their own sexuality.
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