Naya Rivera's ex-husband has filed a wrongful death lawsuit

Catriona Harvey-Jenner
·3-min read
Photo credit: Gregg DeGuire - Getty Images
Photo credit: Gregg DeGuire - Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

Naya Rivera's ex-husband Ryan Dorsey has begun proceedings to sue Venutra County local authority over the death of the Glee star. Papers field on behalf of the former couple's five-year-old son Josey, who was with Naya on a boating trip in the county's Lake Piru when she died, claim there was not adequate safety equipment on the boat. It also suggests there was not enough warning about the dangers of swimming in the lake where the actress drowned.

The wrongful death lawsuit argues that the boat rented by Rivera 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 their boats". It also suggests the vessel was provided without any flotation devices, "in direct violation of California law," and claims there were no warning signs on the lake to alert swimmers to hazards such as water depths, strong currents and low visibility.

33-year-old Naya Rivera's body was found was found near the surface of the water in Lake Piru, California on 13 July, five days after she was first reported missing. On the afternoon of Wednesday 8 July, Josey was found alone and asleep in a drifting boat. Naya had rented the boat with her young son, and they both got out and swam in the lake - but only Josey, who was wearing his life jacket when he was discovered in the vessel, returned. The other, adult-sized life jacket was found unused in the boat along with the child.

Photo credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN - Getty Images
Photo credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN - Getty Images

An autopsy later confirmed drowning to be the cause of the actress' death, and the wrongful death lawsuit goes into tragic detail about how, exactly, Naya lost her life on the lake that day. The papers describe how Naya Rivera and her son were swimming in the water when their boat drifted away, with winds having reached 21mph that afternoon. While then-four-year-old Josey managed to climb back on to the boat, his mother was unable to do the same.

"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," the lawsuit reads. "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."

The papers claim at least 26 other people have drowned at Lake Piru. The named parties on the lawsuit are yet to respond.

In a tribute to his former wife and the mother of his son, Ryan Dorsey wrote on Instagram days after her death: "This is so unfair...there's not enough words to express the hole left in everyone's hearts. I can't believe this is life now. I don't know if I'll ever believe it."

"Life just isn't fair. I don't know what to say...I'm thankful for our times and our journey that brought us together and gave us the sweetest and kindest smart little boy we could ever hope for. [He will] know his momma loved him more than life, and how much fun we had together as he was growing up."

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