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15 July 2020, 08:05
Naya Rivera's family have said they are 'grateful' for the 'outpouring of love and prayers' for the Glee actress.
Naya Rivera, 33, was confirmed dead this week after her body was found at Lake Piru, California.
The Glee actress was out on a boat with her four-year-old son, Josey, when she "disappeared beneath the water".
Now, following an unimaginable week, Naya's family have broken their silence on the star's death.
In a statement released to Deadline, the family 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 honour 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."
They went on: "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."
This statement comes after it was confirmed by officials that Naya died of accidental drowning.
Naya's parents, Yolanda and George, were actively helping the police in their search for their daughter last week and over the weekend when she was still missing.
On Sunday, Naya's parents, her cousin, brother and ex-husband - who is the father to Josey – gathered at the lake where the star was, at the time, missing from.
Yolanda could be seen dropping to her knees on the lake's pier, while Naya's ex Ryan Dorsey and her father waded out into the water.
Police believe Naya and her son Josey were in the water when their boat started to drift, and that the actress "mustered enough energy" to get her son back onto the boat and save him, but "not enough to save herself".
Josey is reported to have told police that he and his mum went swimming and while he got back onto the boat, "his mum never made it out of the water".
During an announcement made by the police following the discovery of Naya's body, Sheriff Ayub said: "We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point during their journey.
"It was during that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind.
"He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water.
"Our hearts go out to her family, friends and fans during this difficult time. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of her death."