Naya Rivera's tragic death has shocked her family, friends and fans, but now we have an official cause of death for the 33-year-old Glee actress, who went missing after going boating with her son on California's Lake Piru on Wednesday, July 8. Initial reports indicated that accidental drowning would be the cause of her death, and now the report from the medical examiner's office has confirmed that suspicion.
After Naya Rivera's body was found in Lake Piru on the morning of Monday, July 13, the Ventura County medical examiner's office confirmed that it was her by comparing dental records. According to the report, which the county released via Twitter, officials performed a full autopsy and found that the state of her body was consistent with a drowning and the time she would have been submerged in the lake.
The report also notes that there were "no traumatic injuries or disease processes" which were identified during the autopsy, and that there were no preliminary indications that drugs or alcohol played any part in Rivera's death, leading to further evidence that there were no suspicious or pre-existing causes behind her drowning. But, the medical examiner's report does state that samples will still be sent for toxicology testing, to completely rule out any drug or alcohol use.
The search for Naya Rivera began in earnest last Wednesday night, after her 4-year-old son, Josey, was found sleeping alone in the pontoon boat that Rivera had rented for the two of them to go out on Lake Piru. Investigators said that Josey recalled that his mom "boosted him onto the deck from behind" before looking back and watching her disappear under the water. The thought is that their boat became unanchored, and Rivera realized this quickly enough to get her son on the boat before it could drift away, but was unable to save herself.
Shortly after it was realized that Naya Rivera was missing, locals near Lake Piru began petitions to encourage officials in the area to make the dangers of the lake better known to tourists. According to one petition, locals are well aware how dangerous swimming in the lake can be, and "don’t go to Lake Piru for this reason!" The lake is, apparently, very deep and with waters that have bad whirpools and rip tides, along with being very cold. Another petition pointed out that eight people had already perished at the lake since 1994, making Rivera Lake Piru's ninth drowning victim.
The initial search for Naya Rivera on Wednesday night included about 50 people from the sheriff's office, unmanned aerial vehicles, a helicopter, divers and boat crews, but after five hours the search had to be suspended due to the dangerous conditions that the divers faced in zero visibility waters at 10 p.m. The search resumed the next day, though, and eventually also included the Coast Guard, cadaver dogs and sonar devices. Some of Rivera's family, including her mother, younger brother and father, visited the lake during the search over the weekend, but by that time it was already considered a recovery mission, as opposed to a rescue operation.
There have already been many outpourings of support and emotional messages for Naya Rivera's family and close friends from her former Glee co-stars over the past week, with many of them, including Heather Morris and Amber Riley, going to Lake Piru to join Rivera's family in honoring her after her body was found. So, their words will likely be a comfort as Rivera's family tries to get through this difficult time.