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Glee stars pay tribute to Rivera, found dead in lake

LOS ANGELES • American officials on Monday found the body of Glee actress Naya Rivera in the Californian lake where she drowned last week during a boat trip with her four-year-old son.

Rivera's body was retrieved and an initial examination found no evidence of foul play or suicide, Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub told a press conference.

"We are confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera," said Mr Ayub, pointing to the location, appearance, clothing and condition of the body.

Her body was being taken to a medical examiner's office for a full autopsy and confirmation of her identity from dental records, though no other missing persons have been reported at Lake Piru, he added.

Rivera, 33, is believed to have accidentally drowned after renting the boat with her young son at the camping and recreational hot spot around an hour's drive north-west of Los Angeles.

She vanished last Wednesday afternoon, and a massive search involving divers, patrol boats and helicopters was launched after her sleeping son was spotted drifting alone in a boat on the lake.

The boy later told investigators that Rivera had helped him into the boat before "he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water", said the sheriff.

Mr Ayub pointed to the lake's strong currents as a possible cause of a fatal accident.

"The idea perhaps being that the boat started drifting – it was unanchored – and that she mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself," he said.

The lake has been closed to the public since last Wednesday, with around 100 personnel, including the United States Coast Guard and rescuers from neighbouring counties, joining the search.

Rivera was best known for her role as high school cheerleader Santana Lopez in Glee (2009 to 2015). She starred for six seasons in the wildly popular musical television series set in a US high school that ended in 2015.

She married actor Ryan Dorsey in 2014 and gave birth to their son, Josey Hollis, in 2015. The couple split in 2018.

This is not the first time the Glee cast has been struck by tragedy.

American actor Mark Salling took his own life in 2018, weeks before his scheduled sentencing for possession of child pornography. He was 35.

Canadian actor Cory Monteith died at age 31 in July 2013 of an overdose of drugs and alcohol. Rivera's body was found on the same day MRead More – Source