The loss of Naya Rivera will obviously affect her friends and loved ones forever, and her many fans for many years to come. But will the manner of her death change things at Lake Piru??
Back in November Ryan Dorsey — the Glee star’s ex — filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their son Josey. The docs alleged the boat Naya had rented that day did not comply with US Coast Guard safety standards. Per those docs:
“[The boat] 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. 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.”
If that’s true, the Ventura County Parks and Recreation Management certainly could be considered partially to blame for her passing as the boat rental was run by their department.
However, the Parks department is fighting against the suit, filing a motion to strike that aspect of it, claiming the 33-year-old, who was taking her boy out on the lake for some mommy-son time, refused to wear the life jacket she was given!
According to the documents obtained by The Blast, local authorities are claiming:
“Ms. Rivera was offered a life vest by Parks Management Company’s boat rental agent, which Ms. Rivera declined to wear, after which the rental agent ‘put the vest in the rental boat.’”
Um, we assume they’re intent is to claim they put two life vests in the boat. After all, there were two passengers. The motion continued:
“Regardless of whether the (The Family) allege that the boat was not equipped with flotation devices, a life vest was present in the boat at the time of the incident.”
We know from the initial investigation that when Josey was found by a Parks employee, he was “wearing a life vest.” We also know Naya’s body was found without one.
Based on the account of what happened that day, Naya swam her son back to the boat and was able to push him up onto the deck with her last bit of strength — before running out of energy and being lost below the water. That’s what we heard from officials at the press conference after her death.
However, Ventura County Parks & Recreation officials seem to be ignoring that story as they also said in their legal docs:
“Other than the lack of an anchor, no facts are alleged demonstrating how a lack of any of these things caused (Naya’s) death. The pleading does not allege that Ms. Rivera died while attempting to climb back into the boat, and therefore a lack of a safety ladder did not cause her death.”
Um… don’t we know that’s how she died? Trying to get her son and herself back on the boat? Hanging onto a ladder absolutely sounds like something one would need in that scenario.
It does seem pretty clear a life preserver could have saved her by giving her the time to float and gather that extra strength. Why she wasn’t wearing one — assuming it was in the boat as they claim — we have no idea. We have heard she was a very strong swimmer; maybe she just didn’t realize she needed one? Maybe the rules should be more strict; they could be mandatory for swimming if they’re so readily available, right? Hmm.
From the start, the very public tragedy has led to calls for better safety at Lake Piru. A petition in the immediate wake of her passing called for signs to warn visiting swimmers:
“Naya Rivera is not the first, nor the last to go missing at Lake Piru. Lake Piru is a very deep lake with very bad whirlpools, people have been asking for years for the city to put up warning signs for swimmers. Locals of Ventura County don’t go to Lake Piru for this reason! Tourist have no idea what they’re getting into. Lake Piru needs signs. We’re tired of waiting. We need justice for all those who got lost at Lake Piru. Put up the signs.”
There have been at least nine deaths there since 1994. If something more can be done, they should just do it. At this point claiming there isn’t anything anyone could have done seems like an excuse not to pay the “punitive or exemplary damages” mentioned in the motion.
What do YOU think??