LOS ANGELES • Glee star Naya Rivera died of accidental drowning, the Ventura County medical examiner said on Tuesday, marking the third tragic death of a cast member from the popular television musical series.
Rivera, 33, was found in Lake Piru, near Los Angeles, on Monday, five days after going missing on a boating trip with her young son.
The medical examiner's report said there was no indication that drugs or alcohol played a role in her death and there were no traumatic injuries or other medical conditions.
Rivera played cheerleader Santana Lopez in Glee (2009 to 2015), the television series about a high-school choir. The musical drama was one of the biggest pop culture hits 10 years ago, but has seen its share of tragedy.
Canadian actor Cory Monteith, who played football player Finn Hudson, died at 31 of a drug overdose in 2013.
American actor Mark Salling, who played Finn's best friend and football teammate Puck, killed himself in 2018 after pleading guilty to possessing child pornography. He was 35.
Rivera's body was recovered near the surface of the water and in an area where the boat was found that was 11m to 18m deep with heavy brush and trees underwater, officials said.
Rivera's four-year-old son, Josey Hollis, who was discovered alone and sleeping on the boat, told the authorities he and his mother had gone swimming in the lake, a recreational reservoir about 80km north of downtown Los Angeles.
The sheriff's officials in charge of the search said on Monday it was not clear what happened, but Josey had told the investigators his mother pushed him back into the boat, but did not get back in herself. Rivera was not wearing a life vest.
The creators of Glee, Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, said on Tuesday they were setting up a college fund for Rivera's son.
"She was fun. She was kind. She was generous," the three producers said in a statement. "Naya was more than just an actor on our show - she was our friend."
Josey is Rivera's son with actor Ryan Dorsey. They married in 2014, but divorced in 2018.