Ashlee Simpson’s husband Evan Ross lost his father in 2004 in a tragic mountain climbing accident when he was only 14-years-old. But his sad childhood doesn’t end there, as his mother Diana Ross struggled to stay sober.
Diana, now 74, entered drug and alcohol rehabilitation in early 2002. Then on December 30, 2002, she was arrested for driving under the influence in Tucson, Arizona. She had a blood-alcohol level of .20, which is more than twice the legal limit.
Just days after the iconic singer agreed to a plea deal for her DUI charge, which included two days in prison and a year of unsupervised probation, her ex-husband Arne Naess Jr. died in a mountain climbing accident.
Evans’ father, who was a Norwegian Shipping Tycoon, passed away at 66 on January 13, 2004 when he fell 320 feet to his death while climbing in the Groot Drakenstein mountains near Cape Town with little protective gear.
Wilderness Search and Rescue spokesperson Kevin Tromp told BBC at the time that the experienced climber, who led a group to the summit of Mount Everest in 1985, “wanted to climb a ridge that had never been climbed before.”
The ridge wasn’t difficult, but was “not on a clean line.”
“Mr. Naess fell while he was abseiling,” he explained. “His camping device, which locks in the crags of rocks, had come loose.”
Globe reported in 2004 that Diana, who was married to Arne from 1985 to 2000, was devastated over the death. Family feared she would return to drinking.
“The timing couldn’t be any worse for Diana,” a friend told Globe at the time. “It was important to Diana that Arne came to see beyond the boozing and accept her as a friend who has beaten her demons. Now she’ll never know if Arne believed in his heart that she finally had a handle on her drinking.”
The friend added how the death “could send her into another deep depression and get her back drinking again.”
“I think she’s definitely at high risk of a relapse,” the insider said. "This is the time for Diana to stay strong, stick to her sobriety and stay off the sauce.”
On this week’s episode of Ashlee + Evan, he opens up about his father’s death.
“My father passed away when I was 15 years old,” Evan said in a sneak peek. “He was climbing and he had fallen.”
Simpson added of her husband climbing, “I want Evan to do this because it takes him back to his roots.”
Ashlee + Evan airs Sunday at 10/9c on E!
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