In July, Rivera and her 5-year-old son Josey Hollis Dorsey, traveled to Lake Piru in Southern California for an afternoon of boating. However, according to the Ventura County Sheriff's department, when the two decided to take a dip in the water, their unanchored pontoon boat drifted away, and the current was strong enough that Rivera drowned as she tried to muster enough strength to help her son onto the boat.
The wrongful death suit makes two main claims: One, that Rivera died because the pontoon boat she rented didn't have appropriate safety equipment. The boat Rivera rented from Parks Management Company allegedly did not have "a safely accessible ladder, rope, anchor, radio, or security mechanisms to prevent swimmers from being separated from the watercraft", according to court documents. Back in July at the time of the incident, Ventura County investigators said one life jacket was found on the boat and Josey was wearing the other. However, the court documents say that there were no flotation or lifesaving devices aboard the boat, which would be a violation of California law.
The second claim is that Rivera — nor anyone else renting boats for that matter — was not warned of the dangerous conditions on Lake Piru. It alleges the wind was blowing at 21 mph that afternoon, which caused the boat to float away so quickly, and there was so signage giving information or warning about changing currents, water depths, and underwater debris.
Rivera and her ex-husband shared a notoriously turbulent relationship, and after two years of marriage they filed for divorce in 2016 (it was finalized in 2018). Dorsey and Rivera shared custody of their son, however, and Josey was the subject of Dorsey's tribute to Rivera after her untimely death. "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," Dorsey wrote on Instagram. "He'll never forget where he came from. We miss you. We will always love you. Love you Meep."
Refinery29 reached out to Dorsey for comment.