Naya Rivera’s Family Is Suing Ventura County for Wrongful Death

The suit alleges that the boat the actress and her son rented at Lake Piru in July wasn’t outfitted with necessary safety equipment
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Four months after Glee star Naya Rivera drowned in Lake Piru, a lawsuit has been filed in Ventura County Court on behalf of her four-year-old son, claiming the county didn’t do enough to warn Rivera about how dangerous the lake is, and that the boat she rented was not up to California state law or Coast Guard standards.

On July 8, Rivera rented a pontoon boat with her son, Josey, but when they failed to return the boat on time, staff found the boy asleep in the vessel but Rivera missing. Her body was found and identified on July 13.

The suit—filed today by Josey’s father, Ryan Dorsey, as well as Rivera’s estate and business manager—also names United Water Conservation District as well as Parks Recreation Management (PMC) as defendants.

As Deadline reports, the suit alleges that “At the Lake Piru Recreation Area boating dock, Naya rented a pontoon boat from PMC—a boat that, it turned out, 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.”

The complaint continues, “Disturbingly, later inspection revealed that the boat was not even equipped with any flotation or lifesaving devices, in direct violation of California law… and displayed signage inaccurately claiming that the boat complied with U.S. Coast Guard safety standards—which, given that those standards require safety equipment such as a life preserver, the boat surely did not.”

The lawsuit paints a disturbing picture of the popular Diablo Cove swimming area, stating that no signs were posted in the area “warning of 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,” adding that at least 26 people of all ages had drowned there since the facility opened.

Josey and Rivera were swimming when their boat started drifting away, the complaint says. Josey was able to climb back onboard because he was closer, but heard his mother crying, “Help! Help!” as he “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.”


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