The following is the Victim Impact Statement my daughter, Kari, presented at the Austin Vantrease parole hearing. She stood before the Board, Austin Vantrease, and his family and let her words flow.
I am Kari Diviney, Ryan Diviney’s little sister. I would like to thank the Board for allowing this opportunity for me to share my personal thoughts, opinions, and recollection.
I will never forget the night my parents ran into my room at 4:00 in the morning with tears streaming down their faces. All they told me was that Ryan was found unconscious in a parking lot at his school and that he was taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital. This was the only information they were given at the time…since it was unclear the damage that had internally been done. They told me to stay home with the dogs and not to worry… I assume this was because I was a young girl at the time who had just begun my senior year of high school and they did not want to concern me. But I still waited up with worry and complete panic till 7 in the morning.
Then the worst happened. My phone rang. My dad tells me that I need to get to Morgantown as soon as possible… When I asked ‘why,’ all my dad could say was “you need to come say goodbye.” In that moment my world ended. It felt like I had been repeatedly punched in the stomach. I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t understand. I could hardly speak. I asked ‘Why daddy? Why?’ And all he could get out was “Just get here…your brother doesn’t have much time.” Shaking and in complete shock all I could say was “PLEASE tell Ryan I love him and to hang in there till I get there.”
The whole car ride was a blur. All I remember is hysterically crying past every graveyard I drove by. Three agonizing hours later I met my uncle outside the ICU. He brought me to where my parents were. I had never seen my dad’s eyes so swollen and red. They assured me they told Ryan to wait for me, but were unsure if he would make it through surgery. The doctors told us that there was a 50% chance he would die on the table. One doctor refused to even do the craniotomy and told us Ryan would be lucky to make it even 24 hours with the swelling and trauma he endured. All that I could think about as I waited was that I may never see my brother alive again. That I never got to say goodbye and that he would never know how much I loved him.
Against all odds, my brother survived the surgery. I ran out into the hallway and saw him being rolled to us. It was my brother in that hospital bed, but it wasn’t Ryan. And it never would be again. My brother survived on November 7th 2009. But Ryan Kenneth Diviney died.
I could hardly look at him. He had bandages wrapped around his head and a tube leading from his brain to drain his blood into a large plastic bag. Both his eyes were bruised purple and black and he had a tube down his throat to give him oxygen.
It made no sense. Who could have done this to my sweet brother and why? What propels someone to cause so much damage to another human being?
Then information started pouring in. People began stepping forward with the information they knew once they heard what happened to Ryan. To my disgust I learned that the two people who did this to my brother had left him in the parking lot that night and proceeded to another place and talked about what had taken place.
Then footage from the Dairy Mart parking lot, where my brother’s life was brutally beaten out of him, was released. The last footage I ever saw of my brother is him back-pedaling away from Austin Vantrease and his group of friends. That was the last time I saw my brother as Ryan Diviney.
Ryan was not a fighter. Ryan was innocent that night and always will be. Ryan was attacked over a debate about the Phillies Vs. the Yankees. My brother lays comatose over 4 ½ half years later because of a baseball game.
Austin Vantrease kicked my unconscious and defenseless brother in the head that night. Austin Vantrease hid like a coward behind a dumpster and watched as my brother’s body started violently seizing. Austin Vantrease watched as the blood poured out of every hole in my brother’s head and didn’t Austin Vantrease proceeded to a party where he bragged and laughed about what he had done?
You have to be some kind of evil to commit that kind of an act of violence on a person within a time frame of less than two minutes. Normal human beings do not kick unconscious strangers in the head over a baseball game. Normal human beings would have called an ambulance. Normal human beings would not leave a person profusely bleeding and seizing there to die. & Normal human beings would not be able to live with themselves after they saw the damage they had caused let alone go straight to a party.
If Austin Vantrease can act on impulse that quickly and cause such traumatic damage then brag about it… Then Austin Vantrease should not be allowed to be a part of regular society.
My big brother is gone. All that is left is a shell of what he used to be. When I hug Ryan …he doesn’t hug me back. When I tell Ryan a funny story he makes no expression. When I look Ryan in the eyes he doesn’t look back. When I hold his hand it lies heavy and motionless.
Ryan was only twenty years old when Austin Vantrease took his life. I was an 18-year-old high school student and I am now a 23-year-old college graduate. I am older than my older brother. It is not fair. Ryan should’ve experienced college. Ryan should have graduated two years ago. Ryan had such big dreams. But now, Ryan will forever be a twenty-year-old sophomore at West Virginia University.
Austin Vantrease did not only take Ryan’s life that night, but he took my parents as well. My dad gave up his job to care for Ryan24/7, and my mom constantly works & travels between Virginia and New York to pay for Ryan’s medical bills. They never get any sleep and always put Ryan before themselves and their health. In these past 4 ½ years I have watched my parents slowly wear away right before my eyes. Austin Vantrease is killing my whole family and I just have to watch.
What scares me the most is time. It is all a matter of time before Ryan’s body gives up on him. It is all a matter of time before Ryan can’t fight off any more infections. It is all a matter of time before his weak and frail body shuts down on him. Traumatic Brain Injury victims such as Ryan are only given an estimated 6-10 years to live. It is all a matter of time till Ryan is truly gone forever. All because of Austin Vantrease. …When Ryan dies, it will be because Austin Vantrease killed him.
I worry every single day for my family. How will my parents cope when Ryan is really gone? How will I cope? What will I do when my parents are gone? I will be all alone. I should have Ryan here to grow old with. I should have my big brother to protect me and be there for me when times get hard. Me and Ryan should’ve gone to college together and we should have grown old together. Ryan deserved the world. He deserved to live a long and happy life. He deserved to have a wife and become a father. He deserved to live out all his dreams. Ryan should be here. Not just his body…. But his soul. His brain should be here. His thoughts and memories should be here…. But instead they were viciously kicked out of him forever.
What I have learned these past 4 ½ years is that there are things worse than death. What Ryan endures every single day is worse than any prison or any hell. Ryan was given a life sentence by the hands of a malicious stranger. Austin Vantrease is a violent monster with no remorse for what he has done. If Ryan hadn’t crossed his path that night I assure you it would’ve been someone else lying in that hospital bed or even in their grave. Violent people like Austin Vantrease cannot and should not be a part of regular society… and it was all a matter of time before he harms someone else.
I am proud that Ryan Diviney is my brother. I am proud that Ryan was innocent and always will be. I am proud to say my brother is Ryan Diviney and not Austin Vantrease. Because if my brother ever did what Austin Vantrease has done to an innocent life, I would never support him and would be humiliated and utterly repulsed to call him a family member.
Austin Vantrease is not sorry for what he has done and neither is his family. It is horrifying to me that his family supports him for taking a man’s life. What happened November 7th was not a fight. Ryan never had a chance. What Austin Vantrease did was immoral, malicious, and just plain evil and he will never be forgiven. Forgiveness is up to Ryan…and I don’t think he has a choice either way.
So I am here today to speak what my brother cannot. I am here to stand up for my big brother because I know he would do the same for me. I miss Ryan every single day and it kills me that he is never coming back. All the life and all Ryan was, was brutally kicked out of him on November 7th, 2009… all because of a baseball game.