The estate of the late Glee star Naya Rivera has filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of her four-year-old son, Josey Hollis Dorsey.
Rivera, who played the character of Santana Lopez on the hit show, tragically died in July after she rented a boat at Lake Piru, California, with her son. She got into difficulty while swimming and drowned.
Rivera’s estate, along with her ex-husband and Josey’s father Ryan Dorsey, filed the lawsuit on Tuesday (17 November) against Ventura County and the managers of Lake Piru, according to Associated Press.
The lawsuit claims that negligence was a factor in Rivera’s death, arguing that the boat she rented did not have an accessible ladder, a radio, a rope, an anchor or any other equipment that would help a struggling swimmer.
Rivera’s estate also alleged that the boat did not have flotation or lifesaving decides on board.
The estate of Glee star Naya Rivera said there were ‘strong currents’ and ‘low visibility’ at Lake Piru.
Furthermore, the lawsuit said there were no signs in the are warning about the lake’s “strong currents, low visibility, high winds” and other hazards. It noted that 26people have drowned at the lake since 1959.
The lawsuit said: “While Naya and Josey were swimming, the boat started to be carried away – likely by the current and wind, which gusted up to 21mph (34km/h) that afternoon.”
The late actor’s estate also clarified the series of events that occurred in the lead-up to Rivera’s death on 8 July.
The lawsuit also clarified that Josey made his own way back to the boat and was able to climb aboard on 8 July, when Rivera went missing. Media reports from the time suggested that Rivera helped her son back onto the boat before she drowned.
However, the lawsuit said she “surely knew that she was dying and would not make it back to her son”.
While Naya and Josey were swimming, the boat started to be carried away – likely by the current and wind, which gusted up to 21mph (34km/h) that afternoon.
Naya Rivera’s disappearance while swimming in Lake Peru on 8 July sent shockwaves around the world. Her body was found in the lake after a frantic six-day search, with early reports indicating an accidental drowning.
An autopsy report released by the Ventura County medical examiner in September noted that Rivera “knew how to swim well”, but that she had several health problems, including vertigo, which “would get worse when she was in the water”.
“The decedent would have vertigo to the point of vomiting, but she learned to control the symptoms with antihistamines,” the report said.
Her body was found floating in an area of the lake that is about 30 feet deep. The Ventura County sheriff’s office said it was likely she was trapped in thick vegetation underwater for several days before floating to the top.
The star was laid to rest two weeks after her death at Hollywood Hills cemetery Forest Lawn Memorial Park.