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The creative minds behind "Glee" released an emotional statement praising actress Naya Rivera after her body was recovered from a lake in southern California.
Rivera, 33, drowned in Lake Piru last Wednesday while on a boating trip with her 4-year-old son, Josey.
"Glee" creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan released a statement Tuesday, praising Rivera's work on the show and pledging to create a college fund for Rivera's son.
Rivera — who began acting as a child — rose to fame as one of the stars of the Fox musical comedy hit, appearing on the show from 2009 to 2015 as cheerleader Santana Lopez.
"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," the creators wrote.
"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 statement continued.
"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."
Officials said they believe one of Rivera's final acts was pushing her young son to safety aboard their rented boat before she disappeared underwater and drowned.
“She mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself,” Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said during a press conference confirming Rivera's death.
A number of her former co-stars on "Glee" posted tributes to the actress. Heather Morris — who played Rivera's love interest on the show — was seen mourning with Rivera's family and friends at the lake following the discovery of her body, Page Six reported.
The Ventura County Medical Examiner ruled Rivera's death an accidental drowning, stating there was no evidence drugs or alcohol played a role, according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Office.
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