Mary Mara, 'Law & Order' and 'Dexter' Actress, Dies in Drowning Accident

Actress Mary Mara has passed away, and an investigation is underway. According to a report by PEOPLE, the 61-year-old TV star was found in the St. Lawrence River in Cape Vincent, New York on Sunday. New York State Police issued a statement saying they believe Mara drowned by accident while swimming.

Mara, who on TV was known for her roles on ER, Criminal Minds and Dexter, was also well-known for her roles in the movies Prom Night, The Hard Way and A Civil Action. The police said: "The preliminary investigation suggests the victim drowned while swimming. The victim's body showed no signs of foul play and was transported to the Jefferson County Medical Examiner's Office pending an autopsy to determine an official cause of death."

Stranger Inside Premiere
(Photo: J. Vespa/WireImage)

Mara's family seemed to be accepting this explanation as well pending a longer investigation. Her brother-in-law, Scott Dailey, told PEOPLE that Mara was staying at a summer home owned by her sister, Martha. He said that she was confirmed to be there when this "apparent swimming accident" happened.

Whatever the circumstances of her passing, many people are celebrating Mara's life. Her manager, Craig Dorfman, told PEOPLE that she was "one of the finest actresses I ever met." He continued: "I still remember seeing her onstage in 1992 in Mad Forest off-Broadway. She was electric, funny, and a true individual. Everyone loved her. She will be missed."

Mara grew up in upstate New York and attended San Francisco State University followed by the Yale School of Drama. She founded a theater group in the Bay Area and worked in the entertainment industry for three decades, with credits spanning stage and screen. Her obituary highlighted the nuance she brought to difficult roles. "She specialized in complex portrayals of often-troubled characters; perhaps the most familiar was her recurring role in the 1990s of Loretta Sweet, a sympathetic, down-and-out prostitute and single mother on the NBC series, ER," it said. 

Some of Mara's other notable TV roles include Nash Bridges, NYPD Blue, Ray Donovan, The Practice, Gideon's Crossing, Star Trek: Enterprise, Lost, Shameless, The West Wing, 7th HEaven, Monk, Nip/Tuck and Bones. Some of her other film appearances include Love Potion No. 9, Just Looking, K-PAX and Gridiron Gang.

Mara is survived by her two sisters, a brother-in-law, a stepdaughter a nephew. So far the family has not announced any plans for a public memorial. The New York State Police's investigation is ongoing.