The Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed in a press release on Tuesday, July 14, that Rivera’s cause of death is 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,” the press release reads. “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.”
The Glee alum, 33, rented a motorized pontoon boat with her son Josey, 4, on Wednesday at Lake Piru near Los Angeles. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department confirmed via Twitter on Monday, July 13, that a body had been recovered from the lake. Authorities previously told Us Weekly that Rivera’s boat was found “adrift,” with Josey “asleep on the boat” and his mother “nowhere to be found.”
“It is believed that Naya and her son were swimming in the lake near the boat and as they were getting back into the boat, her son made it into the boat and Naya went under water and did not resurface,” the sheriff’s department explained at the time.
Authorities began to conduct a “large-scale search and rescue operation” for the actress, but called off their search around 10 p.m. due to “darkness and safety” concerns. Ventura County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Captain Eric Buschow noted that Josey, who Rivera shared with ex-husband Ryan Dorsey, was found with a life vest on around 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
“There was another vest on board the boat for an adult, so it looks like she was not wearing a vest,” Buschow told Us. “He was found on the boat by a passerby. He was found fast asleep on the boat by himself. … I can only imagine the family is going through a traumatic experience right now.”
One day later, Buschow told reporters that Josey was safe and “in good health” as first responders continued their search for his mom.
Shortly after news broke that Rivera was missing, thoughts and prayers from her former costars and other famous faces flooded social media. Glee alums, including Chord Overstreet and Amber Riley, also shared messages of hope, praying that their costar would be found safe and sound. On Saturday, July 12, former costar Heather Morris asked to join the police search for her beloved friend.
“I understand your team is doing EVERYTHING in their power, but we are feeling helpless, powerless and want to help in any way. I have left a message with the department of Rescue and Air today, and I will call again tomorrow. Thank you,” she tweeted, adding that she wanted to be part of a small “on-foot search” with other concerned friends.
One day before authorities recovered Rivera’s body, a diver from the search and rescue team explained what may have happened to cause the Devious Maids star’s disappearance.
“If you’re not familiar with the boat and getting on and off the boat, you can get tired just climbing onto the boat. You can fall back in, people hit their heads, things like that,” Robert Inglis of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue Team told Us exclusively. “What I suspect is that the winds kicked up. Those pontoon boats are very light, and when you push them, it can get away from you.”