Gloria Estefan says her heart was ''just ripped to shreds'' by Naya Rivera's death.

The former 'Glee' actress has opened up after her former co-star tragically died in a boating accident in July, and she admitted she tried to come up with more hopeful explanations in her head when she found out her friend was missing.

She told 'Entertainment Tonight': ''I'm a boater. I've been on a boat with my small child and I was hoping maybe she'd gotten them up on the boat then somehow been caught up in the current and made it to shore.

''I was inventing all these scenarios that could have been. At the same time, knowing that baby had been alone for so long in the boat - that didn't bode well.

''When I saw her mom kneeling by that lake, my heart just ripped to shreds because I know what she had to be feeling, and it's horrendous.''

In 'Glee', Gloria played Maribel Lopez, who was the mother of Naya's character Santana Lopez.

She described her cast mate as ''the nicest, warmest person'', and revealed the impact their storyline had on her own life when her daughter Emily came out as gay.

She added: ''It was a brutal loss, She was the nicest, warmest person. A lovely girl [and] triple threat.

''I send a lot of prayers out to that family... What's an interesting thing, too, that I thought about later - I played her mother and [her character] came out in that show.

''And then, without even knowing [it] ... that was going to be also me [in real life].''

Recently, Gloria spoke about her rapport with Naya - whose death was ruled an accidental drowning - and revealed they had planned to record music together before she fell pregnant with Josey.

She said: ''When I got the opportunity and was invited to be a part of it, I was thrilled beyond words. When I was there, they were at their peak of fame. So, a lot of the kids, you know, were great, a lot of them weren't handling fame that well and didn't have the kind of rapport that Naya had.

''Naya was really down to earth and warm and [it] was a joy to play her mom. She had really amazing chops.

''We were gonna do that music, were working on it, and then she got pregnant. She married and got pregnant, so she got sidetracked in that respect at that moment.''