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Naya Rivera’s Estate Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Following Drowning

Ex-husband Ryan Dorsey files complaint on behalf of their son Josey against Ventura County and others

Naya Rivera's estate and ex-husband Ryan Dorsey have filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their son Josey against Ventura County.

Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/Sipa USA via AP

Naya Rivera’s estate and her ex-husband Ryan Dorsey have filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their son Josey after the late Glee star’s drowning death at Lake Piru in California’s Ventura County.

The complaint, which was filed on Tuesday, alleges that Rivera’s death, which was ruled an accidental drowning, was “preventable.” The suit accuses Ventura County, United Water Conservation District, and Parks and Recreation Management for failing to provide the proper safety equipment on the pontoon boat Rivera rented.

The suit alleges that the boat “was not equipped with a safely accessible ladder, adequate rope, an anchor, a radio, or any security mechanisms to prevent swimmers from being separated from the boats. Disturbingly, later inspection revealed that the boat was not even equipped with any flotation or lifesaving devices, in direct violation of California law, which requires that all pontoons longer than 16 feet be equipped with flotation devices.”

The complaint also claims that there was “not a single sign anywhere” alerting visitors of potential “dangers of swimming in the lake,” including no warnings about “the lake’s strong currents, low visibility, high winds, changing water depths, underwater caves, ledges and drop offs, or the trees, brush, and other debris that congest its waters due to vastly changing water levels and winds.” The suit also cites that “at least 26 other people” have drowned in Lake Piru.

The actress, who was accompanied by her son, rented a pontoon boat at Lake Piru where they went swimming on July 8th. After the boat was not returned following the allotted three-hour rental time, staff located the boat with only Josey onboard. A search-and-rescue mission ensued. Rivera’s body was found five days later.

According to the complaint, Rivera and Josey were swimming when the boat “started to be carried away — likely by the current and wind, which gusted up to 21 miles per hour that afternoon. Josey, who was closer, managed to get back on the boat by his own volition and braced himself on the boat, which was rocking back and forth forcefully in the current and wind.

“Josey knew Naya was still in the water, and heard her cry, ‘Help! Help!’ in her struggle to get back to the boat and avoid drowning,” per the complaint. “Josey searched in vain for rope to help his mother get back on the boat. Josey then looked back at the water for his mother and saw that Naya had disappeared. Josey yelled for help and cried alone in the boat until he was found more than an hour later by a PMC boat leasing agent.”

From Rolling Stone US