‘Tarzan’ actor Ron Ely sues Calif. sheriff’s office over deaths of wife, son

The suit claims deputies failed to get his wife adequate medical care after she was allegedly stabbed by the couple's son

By Jessica Schladebeck
New York Daily News

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — “Tarzan” actor Ron Ely has filed a lawsuit against the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office in California, alleging its deputies contributed to the deaths of his wife and son while responding to a violent incident at the family’s Hope Ranch home in 2019.

Cameron Ely called authorities to the residence last year on Oct. 19, initially telling them his famous father had just tried to attack his 62-year-old mother, Valerie Lundeen Ely.

This Dec. 28, 1987 file photo shows former “Tarzan” actor Ron Ely during an interview in Los Angeles.
This Dec. 28, 1987 file photo shows former “Tarzan” actor Ron Ely during an interview in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

Authorities quickly identified the 30-year-old as the actual suspect and eventually tracked him down outside the house.

According to a press release issued by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s office at the time, Valerie was already “deceased with multiple stab wounds inside the home” when officers arrived on the scene. But according to the new wrongful death suit, obtained by TMZ, Ely said he requested emergency services after his wife suffered stab wounds to her chest and lung.

When deputies showed up at the home around 8:15 PM, they allegedly failed to check if Valerie was still alive, according to the suit, which also takes aim at the city of Santa Barbara. Ely also claimed deputies blocked medical personnel from entering the home and ultimately prevented his wife from receiving care for nearly a half hour.

She was not pronounced dead until 8:42 p.m.

The lawsuit additionally noted that Cameron was not armed when he was approached by officers that deadly night, though authorities have said the 30-year-old claimed to have a weapon at the time. According to the wrongful death suit however, Cameron actually had his arms in the air when deputies unleashed 24 rounds of gunfire, striking him 22 times.

The television star also claimed his son went without medical care for nearly 15 minutes.

Ely, who retired from acting in 2001, was home at the time of incident but was not injured. He starred in a range of television roles in the 1960s, but he is most famous for his role in “Tarzan,” which featured him as the jungle man from 1966 to 1968. Ely has also had recurring roles in “The Love Boat” and “Wonder Woman.”

He is seeking and an unspecified amount in damages.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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