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Naya Rivera death was an accidental drowning, medical examiner rules

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The Ventura County medical examiner on Tuesday determined the cause of death of “Glee” star Naya Rivera, whose body was found Monday in Lake Piru, was an accidental drowning.

Rivera disappeared Wednesday during a boat outing with her young son. Authorities have long believed her death was an accident.

“Based on the location where the body was found, the physical characteristics of the body, the clothing found on the body and the physical condition of the body, as well as the absence of any other persons reported missing in the area, we are confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera,” Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said at a Monday afternoon news conference.

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Detectives have found no indication of foul play or that Rivera’s death was a suicide, he said.

The body was taken to the Ventura County medical examiner’s office, where an autopsy was performed and a positive identification was officially made using dental records, officials said. Officials found no signs of physical injury or disease during their examination. Investigators say there is no evidence that drugs or alcohol were involved in Rivera’s death, but they did submit samples for toxicology tests.

Search teams found Rivera’s body about 9:10 a.m. floating in the northeastern portion of the lake, said Capt. Eric Buschow of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. The area had been searched extensively by dive crews and with sonar equipment over the last several days.

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“That particular area, when it was searched by divers, they were literally crawling on hands and knees at the bottom of the lake attached by ropes so they could make their way back out because visibility is so poor,” Buschow said. “That gives you kind of an idea of what the conditions were like.”

Rivera’s body was probably submerged for days, concealed by the 15- to 20-foot-high trees and brush that grow on the bed of the lake, before surfacing Monday, he said.

Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.


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