Wrongful Death Suit Filed Over Naya Rivera's Drowning

Ex-husband files on behalf of couple's 5-year-old son
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2020 1:22 AM CST
Naya Rivera's Ex Sues Over Her Drowning Death
In this Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, file photo, Naya Rivera participates in the "Step Up: High Water," panel during the YouTube Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif.   (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)

Naya Rivera's family thinks the actress's death at a California lake this summer could have been prevented. A new wrongful death lawsuit, filed by Rivera's ex-husband on behalf of her estate and the couple's young son, targets Ventura County, where Lake Piru is located. The suit claims county officials failed to warn visitors of the lake's dangers, including rip currents, debris, winds, and low visibility, CBS News reports. It also alleges the pontoon boat Rivera and her son rented had no flotation or rescue devices, in violation of state law, and "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 suit claims 21mph winds pushed the boat away from Rivera and her son, who was 4 at the time, after they jumped into the water, CNN reports. The boy managed to get back in and brace himself as the currents and wind rocked the boat, but he couldn't find a rope to throw to his mother as she called for help. "Josey then looked back at the water for his mother, and saw that Naya had disappeared," the suit says. "Josey yelled for help and cried alone in the boat until he was found more than an hour later." The suit cites the lake's "deadly history," per People, and claims at least 26 people have drowned in the lake since 1959. (Rivera's son says they counted "1, 2, 3" together before jumping.)

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