Ryan Diviney was born on September 21, 1989 at Reston Hospital. He came into the world in a big way, weighing well over 10 lbs. and right in the middle of Hurricane Hugo that stalled over Virginia. We barely made it to the hospital when he decided he just didn’t want to wait any longer. That night was foreshadowing of things to come nearly two decades later, as I say up with him all night to make sure his blinders covered his eye while in a lamp chamber to be treated for jaundice.
Ryan excelled at everything he touched. He was particularly intelligent (in a practical and academic way), and took control of social situations with grace. Although admittedly shy, he never let on and taught himself to be engaging and humorous. He was, in every respect, the all-American boy; he loved sports, dogs, and women. Ryan would debate on any topic, sometimes knowing little on the subject, but always made the most inane idea sound perfectly reasonable. He was always honing this skill because he wanted to be a judge or Senator. He was a master at it and sports were his favorite topic since he excelled here too. This passion for respectful discourse led to his demise.
On the night of November 7, 2009 he and two friends were walking to a Dairy Mart directly behind his WVU college house when a gang of rowdy, obnoxious punks crossed his path. The group, all from Newark, Delaware, became aggressive and surrounded Ryan. Ryan put his hands up, palms out, to show he was not interested in fighting. Then he began to back-peddle. The gang ran him down. Off to his left his roommate, Bryan McLhinney was being sucker punched by Austin Vantrease. Bryan fell to the ground with only his jaw to break the fall. It broke and he spent months
with his mouth wired shut on a liquid-only diet.
When Ryan saw his friend go down he started toward him to help, but Jonathan May ambushed him from the side with a punch to the jaw forceful enough to take Ryan’s legs out from under him. Ryan was unconscious before he hit the ground. He literally never knew what hit him as he went backwards. The base of his skull hit a raised manhole cover, causing damage to the brain stem and frontal lobes as his brain rebounded in his head. His brain was badly damaged and his life was already in the balance.
For reasons only evil knows, Austin Vantrease ran over to Ryan as he was out cold on his back and began kicking him in the head. A witness testified that it looked like he was “punting a football”. He didn’t stop until Ryan was bleeding from his ears and began having seizures. Then they ran and hid behind a dumpster as the police and paramedics arrived. After Ryan was taken away they all went to another party and talked about it.
There is no reason Ryan shouldn’t have died that night or the months following. His brain was so badly damaged that doctors thought he must have been in a terrible car crash (until I told them otherwise). We watched him beat all the odds, from surviving a temperature of 109.8 degrees to his heart rate suddenly plummet. We sat helplessly as he died, then brought himself back, several times. Brain injury as devastating as his affects every part of the body.
Since this time it’s been a struggle, sometime by the minute, that no person (or family) should ever have to endure. We will not give up… until he does.