Naya Rivera has sadly passed away at the age of 33 due to an accidental drowning in Lake Piru. It has been reported that Rivera and her 4-year-old son, Josey, rented a boat to take out onto the lake last Wednesday, and a few hours later officials responded to reports that Josey was on the boat alone. After a conversation with Josey, Ventura County Officials said that in Rivera’s last moments she helped him get back on the boat after a swim and that when he looked back he saw her disappear under the water. The search for Rivera continued over the course of the next 6 days, when eventually the police discovered a body on July 13th. They ultimately identified that it was Rivera and the autopsy had shown her death was due to an accidental drowning.
Her friends and family gathered around Lake Piru as they tried to cope with the tragedy. The family has officially released a statement following the news. In it they said:
“We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers for Naya, Josey and our family over the past week. While we grieve the loss of our beautiful legend, we are blessed to honor her everlasting legacy and magnetic spirit. Naya was an amazing talent, but was an even greater person, mother, daughter and sister. Thank you to the men and women of the Ventura, Tulare, and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Departments for your commitment and unwavering effort to find Naya. We extend endless gratitude and ovation to the heroine who found her. Thank you to her friends, colleagues, and fans for your continuous support. Heaven gained our sassy angel. We kindly request that our privacy be respected during this very difficult time.”
Many of Rivera’s friends took to social media to express how much she meant to them. Kevin McHale, her fellow Glee co-star, posted a beautiful tribute to Rivera on Instagram. He started off his caption by writing, “My Naya, my Snixxx, my Bee. I legitimately can not imagine this world without you.”
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My Naya, my Snixxx, my Bee. I legitimately can not imagine this world without you. • 7 years ago today, she and I were together in London when we found out about Cory. We were so far away, but I was so thankful that we had each other. A week ago today we were talking about running away to Hawaii. This doesn’t make sense. And I know it probably never will. • She was so independent and strong and the idea of her not being here is something I cannot comprehend. She was the single most quick-witted person I’ve ever met, with a steel-trap memory that could recall the most forgettable conversations from a decade ago verbatim. The amount of times she would memorize all of those crazy monologues on Glee the morning of and would never ever mess up during the scene… I mean, she was clearly more talented than the rest of us. She was the most talented person I’ve ever known. There is nothing she couldn’t do and I’m furious we won’t get to see more. • I’m thankful for all the ways in which she made me a better person. She taught me how to advocate for myself and to speak up for the things and people that were important to me, always. I’m thankful for the times I grew an ab muscle from laughing so hard at something she said. I’m thankful she became like family. I’m thankful that my dad happened to have met her weeks before I did and when I got Glee, he told me to “look out for a girl named Naya because she seemed nice.” Well dad, she was nice and she became one of my favorite people ever. • If you were fortunate enough to have known her, you’ll know that her most natural talent of all was being a mother. The way that 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 he will have a strong family around him to protect him and tell him about his incredible mom. I just hope more than anything that her family is given the space and time to come to terms with this. For having such tiny body, Naya had such a gigantic presence, a void that will now be felt by all of us – those of us who knew her personally and the millions of you who loved her through your TVs. I love you, Bee.
Another star that wrote an amazing homage to Rivera was Demi Lovato. Lovato mentions in her caption just how much Rivera’s character on Glee, Santana Lopez, meant to young girls trying to figure themselves out in such a chaotic world. Lovato wrote, “RIP Naya Rivera. I’ll forever cherish the opportunity to play your girlfriend on Glee. The character you played was groundbreaking for tons of closeted queer girls (like me at the time) and open queer girls, and your ambition and accomplishments were inspiring to Latina women all over the world. My heart goes out to your loved ones at this time..”
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RIP Naya Rivera. I’ll forever cherish the opportunity to play your girlfriend on Glee. The character you played was groundbreaking for tons of closeted queer girls (like me at the time) and open queer girls, and your ambition and accomplishments were inspiring to Latina women all over the world. My heart goes out to your loved ones at this time.. ❤️🕊
Darren Criss, also a co-star of Rivera’s on Glee, posted a tribute to her expressing the light she brought onto set and into his life every single day. In his caption he mentions, “Naya made me laugh like no one else on that set. I always said it while we were working together and I’ve maintained it ever since. Her playful, wicked sense of humor never ceased to bring a smile to my face.”
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She was bold. She was outrageous. She was a LOT of fun. Naya made me laugh like no one else on that set. I always said it while we were working together and I’ve maintained it ever since. Her playful, wicked sense of humor never ceased to bring a smile to my face. She played by her own rules and was in a class of her own. She had a brashness about her that I couldn’t help but be enchanted by. I also always loved her voice, and savored every chance I got to hear her sing. I think she had more talent than we would have ever been able to see. I was constantly moved by the degree to which she took care of her family, and how she looked out for her friends. She showed up for me on numerous occasions where she didn’t have to, and I was always so grateful for her friendship then, as I certainly am now. And 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. Rest in peace you wild, hilarious, beautiful angel.
Naya Rivera was a talented, hard-working, passionate mother and actress. She is now survived through her parents, Yolanda and George, brother Mychal, sister Nickayla, and her son Josey. Our thoughts continue to go out to her family.