Glee creators have announced they are creating a college fund for star Naya Rivera’s four-year-old son after an autopsy confirmed the 33-year-old actress died from accidental drowning after going boating.
- Naya Rivera’s son, Josey who was found in the boat with her, is safe, healthy and with family members, officials have said
- Glee creators said the star “was more than just an actor on our show”, and that they were in the process of setting up a college fund for four-year-old Josey
- The news comes as Ms Rivera’s former cast members take to social media to pay tribute to her
Ms Rivera was found in southern California’s Lake Piru on Monday (local time) near the surface of the water, in an area where the boat was found that was 11-18 metres deep and with heavy brush and trees underwater, officials said.
The discovery came five days after she disappeared while boating with her son, Josey, who was found asleep and alone on the boat.
The star’s son told authorities he and his mother had both gone swimming in the lake, a recreational reservoir about 80 kilometres north of downtown Los Angeles.
Sheriff’s officials in charge of the search said on Monday it was not clear what happened, but that Ms Rivera’s son had told investigators his mother pushed him back into the boat but did not get back in herself.
Ms Rivera (left) portrayed a high school student in an openly gay relationship on Glee.(Supplied: IMDB)
Ms Rivera’s body showed no signs of traumatic injury or disease that might have contributed to the drowning, and gave no initial indication that drugs or alcohol may have played a role in her death, the Ventura County Medical Examiner said in a statement on Tuesday.
Dental records were used to confirm Ms Rivera’s identity, and routine toxicology tests will be performed for the presence of drugs and alcohol, the statement added.
College fund for ‘the beautiful son Naya loved most of all’
In the wake of her death, the creators of Glee announced they would be creating a college fund for Josey, who was safe and healthy and with family members according to officials.
Ms Rivera played cheerleader Santana Lopez on the 2009-2015 TV series about a high-school choir.
The missing person has been identified as Glee star Naya Rivera
Her drowning followed the drug overdose in 2013 of actor Cory Monteith, who played footballer Finn,and the 2018 suicide of Mark Salling, who played Puck, after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography.
“Naya was more than just an actor on our show she was our friend,” Glee creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Our hearts go out to her family, especially her mom, Yolanda, who was a big part of the ‘Glee’ family, and her son Josey,” they added.
“The three of us are currently in the process of creating a college fund for the beautiful son Naya loved most of all.”
Josey is Rivera’s son with her former husband, actor Ryan Dorsey.
Local media pictured the 36-year-old, who was married to Ms Rivera between 2014 and 2018, at the lake where she disappeared.
Ms Rivera called the pair’s son “my greatest success, and I will never do any better than him”.
Although not initially hired as a Glee cast member, it “didn’t take more than an episode or two for us to realise that we had lucked into finding one of the most talented, special stars we would ever have the pleasure of working with”, the producers’ statement added.
Ms Rivera could act, sing, dance and “nail a joke as well as she could crush you with an emotional scene She was a joy to write for, a joy to direct and a joy to be around”.
In portraying a high school student in an openly lesbian relationship on Glee, Ms Rivera ensured her character’s love for her partner was “expressed with dignity, strength and with pure intentions”, the producers said.
‘How can you convey all your love in one post?’
Ms Rivera’s former Glee co-stars have taken to social media to speak of her talents and their loss.
Actor Darren Criss, who played Blaine Anderson on the show, wrote on Instagram: “She was bold. She was outrageous. She was a LOT of fun.
“Even as I sit here, struggling to comprehend, gutted beyond description the very thought of her cracks me up and still brings a smile to my face. That was Naya’s gift. And it’s a gift that will never go away.”
Jane Lynch, who played cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester, tweeted: “Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were. Love and peace to your family.”
Dianna Agron, who played Quinn Fabray, said she too could not make sense of “this tremendous loss”, writing of the early days of Glee and Ms Rivera’s “tremendous talent” in an Instagram post.
It finished: “I will hold onto her and these memories for the rest of time, alongside our Glee family.
“Please hold space for her, her family, her beautiful boy. In absolute, loving memory.”
In a series of tweets, Kevin McHale, who played Artie Abrams, said he “legitimately can not imagine this world” without Ms Rivera.
“If you were fortunate enough to have known her, you’ll know that her most natural talent of all was being a mother,” McHale wrote.
“The way she loved her boy, it was truly Naya at her most peaceful.
“I’m thankful that Naya got that beautiful little boy back on that boat.
“I’m thankful that he will have a strong family around him to protect him and tell him about his incredible mom.”
And Chris Colfer, who played Kurt Hummel, questioned on Instagram: “How can you convey all your love and respect for someone in one post?
“How can you summarise a decade of friendship and laughter with words alone? If you were friends with Naya Rivera, you simply can’t.”