Actress Naya Rivera‘s family has issued a statement following her untimely passing and the creators of the show she starred in, Glee, are creating a college fund for her 4-year-old son, Josey. On July 8, Rivera passed away after renting a pontoon boat for a few hours with her son.
While on Lake Piru in Ventura County, California, Rivera and Josey reported got into the water for a swim. However, authorities believe that because the boat wasn’t anchored down, it drifted away, forcing Rivera to hold her son has she swam back to the boat.
While Rivera was able to muster enough strength to push Josey back onto the boat, as Josey turned back to find his mom, he watched as she floated under the water, never to return. Rivera’s body was found five days later after it was recovered by divers participating in the search for the actress.
Actress Naya Rivera’s Family Issues Statement
Following the news of her disappearance and death, her co-stars and friends took to social media to share their own personal tributes to the multi-talented star. Now her family is speaking out as well.
In a statement issued to Dateline, Rivera’s family began by saying they “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,” the statement continued.
“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,” the family added. “We kindly request that our privacy be respected during this very difficult time.”
The creators of Glee, Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, also issued a statement of their own.
“We are heartbroken over the loss of our friend Naya Rivera. Naya wasn’t a series regular when we cast her on Glee. She didn’t have more than a few lines in the pilot. But it didn’t take more than an episode or two for us to realize that we had lucked into finding one of the most talented, special stars we would ever have the pleasure of working with. Naya could act, she could dance, and she could sing (could she ever sing!). She could nail a joke as well as she could crush you with an emotional scene. She could move between being scary tough and deeply vulnerable with ease. She was a joy to write for, a joy to direct and a joy to be around.”
The television making trio went on to talk about how serious she took her groundbreaking role on Glee, as one of the first openly gay Latina characters on network television, they wrote how she was “always moved by the girls who reached out to her to tell her how much Santana and Brittany’s love affected them.”
To conclude their statement, Murphy, Falchuk, and Brennen offered their condolences to her surviving family and revealed their decision to start a college fund for Josey. “Our hearts go out to her family, especially her mom, Yolanda, who was a big part of the Glee family and her son Josey. The three of us are currently in the process of creating a college fund for the beautiful son Naya loved most of all.”
As the coroner’s autopsy revealed, Rivera’s death has been ruled an accidental drowning. Her little boy is now in his father’s care, whom Rivera shared custody with since their split in 2018.
Nonetheless, as sources tell People, “Ryan [Dorsey] has barely slept. It’s just a nightmare. Although he wasn’t with Naya, it’s Josey’s mom. Josey needs his mom.” Rivera was just 33 years old.
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