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Naya Rivera's ex-husband files wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their young son


Naya Rivera’s ex-husband has filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their young son, four months after the boy witnessed his mother’s tragic drowning at a California lake.

Ryan Dorsey, 37, is suing Ventura County, its Parks and Recreation management, and the United Water Conservation District over his ex-wife’s death, US Weekly reported Wednesday. 

Rivera, 33, drowned at Lake Piru, northwest of Los Angeles, on July 8 after renting out a pontoon boat with the couple’s five-year-old son Josey Hollis.  

Naya Rivera's ex-husband Ryan Dorsey on Tuesday filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their young son Josey,  four months after the toddler witnessed his mother's tragic drowning in Lake Piru

Rivera and son Josey, five

Naya Rivera’s ex-husband Ryan Dorsey on Tuesday filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their five-year-old son Josey (right) four months after the toddler witnessed his mother’s tragic drowning at a California lake 

Rivera, 33, drowned in Lake Piru, California on July 8 hours after renting a pontoon boat with her young son

Rivera, 33, drowned in Lake Piru, California on July 8 hours after renting a pontoon boat with her young son 

The actress was declared missing hours later after Josey was found alone on the floating vessel with no trace of his mother.

Her body was pulled out of the lake five days later following a grueling recovery operation.

According to the complaint filed on Tuesday, Dorsey said the county is responsible for Rivera’s preventable death because the boat rental had not been in compliance with US Coast Guard safety standards at the time. 

Dorsey alleged the small vessel had not been supplied with a ‘safely accessible ladder’, rope, anchor, radio or ‘any security mechanisms’ to prevent swimmers from being separated from the boat. 

‘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 documents state. 

However, an autopsy report stated that Rivera’s son Josey was wearing a life vest when he was found, and one provided for the actress was found on the boat. 

The complaint further claimed the lake did not have any signs in the vicinity, including at its swimming area, to warn swimmers of the lake’s dangerous conditions and strong currents. It also highlighted the lake’s lengthy history of drowning incidents since 1959. 

Dorsey, 37, claims Ventura County is responsible for Rivera's preventable death because the boat rental was not in compliance with US Coast Guard safety standards. The two were married from 2014 to 2018

Dorsey, 37, claims Ventura County is responsible for Rivera’s preventable death because the boat rental was not in compliance with US Coast Guard safety standards. The two were married from 2014 to 2018 

Security camera at the boat launch captured Rivera and her son arriving to rent a pontoon boat at Lake Piru on July 8

Security camera at the boat launch captured Rivera and her son arriving to rent a pontoon boat at Lake Piru on July 8

Naya Rivera's father, George Rivera, second from right, and mother Yolanda, second from left, with members of Ventura County Sheriff's Office, are seen in a boat after Naya Rivera's body was found in Lake Piru on Monday, July 13

Naya Rivera’s father, George Rivera, second from right, and mother Yolanda, second from left, with members of Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, are seen in a boat after Naya Rivera’s body was found in Lake Piru on Monday, July 13

Dorsey also claimed in the suit that the employee who rented the boat to Rivera had allegedly failed to advise her to wear the life jacket included onboard.

Authorities said Josey had been wearing a life vest at the time he was found, but the actress was not. 

The man who rented her the boat however had claimed Rivera had declined a life vest, but he put one aboard anyway, according to investigators. 

An autopsy report released in September revealed Rivera accidentally drowned after she and Josey had jumped into the lake together at the count of three. 

She quickly helped him back onto the boat before raising her arm in the air and calling for help. 

Josey told investigators his mom then disappeared under the surface of the water, the report stated. Her death certificate states she had died within minutes.

Rivera’s mother Yolanda told investigators at the time that her daughter ‘knew how to swim well.’

Her body was finally recovered five days later. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said she was most likely trapped in thick vegetation underwater before floating to the top. 

The day before her death, Rivera had tweeted a photo of herself with Josey that read, ‘just the two of us.’ In her memoir, she called him ‘my greatest success, and I will never do any better than him.’  

The day before her death, Rivera tweeted a photo of herself with Josey that read, 'just the two of us.' In her memoir, she called him 'my greatest success, and I will never do any better than him'

The day before her death, Rivera tweeted a photo of herself with Josey that read, ‘just the two of us.’ In her memoir, she called him ‘my greatest success, and I will never do any better than him’

Rivera played Santana in the hit TV show Glee. Her death at 33 has been ruled accidental

The boy is now in the care of Dorsey, who was married to the Glee actress from 2014 to 2018. 

Dorsey paid tribute to actress in a post after her death and promised Josey would grow up knowing ‘his momma loved him more than life.’

‘Life is all about good times and bad times but with Josey it makes the bad a little less so because a part of you will always be with us.

‘He’ll never forget where he came from. We miss you. We will always love you,’ he wrote. 

Rivera’s death was the third of a major cast member of ‘Glee,’ the Fox TV musical comedy that Rivera starred in from 2009 to 2015, playing a singing and dancing lesbian cheerleader Santana. 

The show has been dubbed as having a ‘curse’ after a string of heartbreaks and horrors surrounding it.

Rivera’s body was found seven years to the day after co-star Cory Monteith died at 31 from a toxic mix of alcohol and heroin.

Another co-star, Mark Salling, who Rivera dated at one point, killed himself in 2018 at age 35 after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.

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