I want to thank the person, Josh, who volunteered to take this project on. He did an incredible amount of leg work on getting this Wikipedia article together. It’s ready for submission, as is. Before doing this, however, I wanted to run the draft past you first.
The key item to remember is that the article must be unbiased, condensed, and factually accurate. This draft copy (below) is what Wikipedia calls the “sandbox” version. It is not available to the public until submitted and approved. I’m tickled that the faithful reader of this website get the first look at it.
Ryan Diviney (born September 21, 1989) is a former West Virginia University (WVU) student who now exists in a vegetative state due to a violent assault that took place during the early morning hours of November 7, 2009.
His life has gained national attention in the United States and worldwide for the brutality of the attack, innovation in brain injury treatment, and several landmark rulings in the country’s Federal Courts.
- 1 Personal Life
- 2 Assault and Brain Injury
- 3 Aftermath
- 4 Current Status/Outlook
Ryan Diviney was born on September 21, 1989 in Reston, VA. Described by many as the “All-American Boy,” he had a self-described passion for sports, women, and dogs.
As a high school student, Ryan was elected and won Homecoming Court to represent his class as an underclassman at Broad Run High School (Ashburn, VA). A gifted athlete, he played both baseball (named to the Top 50 prospects in the state of Virginia in just his sophomore year) and football. Ryan was the first in the 45-year history of the school to make the baseball All-District team three consecutive years.
In the fall of 2008, Ryan began attending West Virginia University on a partial academic scholarship. At the time of his injury, Ryan was a sophomore with a 3.8 grade point average. During his first semester attending, he achieved a perfect 4.0 grade point average and was placed on the President’s List. He planned to enter a career as either a Judge or Senator after graduation. He has a younger sister, Kari, who began attending WVU in the fall of 2010.
Assault and Brain Injury
Just after 3 a.m. on November 7, 2009, Ryan and two others were walking to a convenience store adjacent to the WVU campus when they encountered a larger group. Words were exchanged regarding the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team, and the conversation quickly became heated. Ryan was pushed and began walking backward, hands raised, to get away. Both of Ryan’s companions were assaulted; one of them, Bryan McLhinney, was rendered unconscious, his jaw broken.
As Ryan backed away, some from the larger group ran him down. WVU student Jonathon May approached from Ryan’s blind side and punched him in the face, knocking him unconscious. The punch lifted Ryan off his feet and he struck his head on a raised grate when he fell, causing damage to his brain stem and frontal lobes. At this point, 19-year-old Austin Vantrease, visiting from Newark, Delaware, approached Ryan and kicked the unconscious man in the head as if he were “punting a football,” according to witness testimony. May, Vantrease and the others from the larger group then ran, hiding briefly behind a dumpster before fleeing the scene. When paramedics arrived, Ryan was bleeding from the ears and suffering seizures. His breathing was shallow, slow, and labored.
Much of the encounter was captured on the convenience store’s video surveillance, which showed Ryan trying to escape.
Ryan suffered a fractured skull, a broken jaw, and bleeding of the brain. At Ruby Memorial hospital (Morgantown, WV), Ryan’s parents, Ken and Sue, were told that Ryan’s only chance of survival involved the removal of a portion of skull, approximately one-third, to allow for brain swelling. They consented to this procedure even as a priest was summoned to administer last rites. Ryan’s chances of surviving this operation were less than 50 percent. Ryan was also given only a slight chance of surviving the next three days, as his brain continued to swell.
Ryan barely survived, though his life in the first year after the attack remained tenuous as he endured repeated life-threatening episodes of neurological storming (also called “brain storming”) for 12 to 18 hours a day. His core body temperature swung below 92 degrees and as high as 109.8. His heart stopped twice, and he endured nine surgeries. As he no longer blinks, his eyes have been sewn shut to prevent further damage; a procedure called Tarsorraphy. He is cared for at home, full-time, by his father in Ashburn, Virginia.
Ryan’s assailants, Jonathon Matthew May and Austin Issac Vantrease, both of Newark, Delaware, were arrested within weeks of the attack. Neither had stepped forward to claim responsibility and a manhunt by the Morgantown Police Detectives led to their capture in their hometown of Newark, Delaware, where each posted $75,000 bond.
In July, 2010, both were criminally convicted in West Virginia State Court. May was convicted of misdemeanor battery and sentenced to a year in jail; he served 7 months of the sentence. Vantrease was convicted of felony malicious assault and sentenced to 2 – 10 years, with a chance for parole after two years. He has been denied parole twice, in 2012 and 2013. An online petition to deny Vantrease’s July 2013 parole was signed by nearly 30,000 within a week, and ultimately received more than 156,000 signatures. When asked at his 2013 parole hearing why he kicked a clearly unconscious man in the head, Vantrease answered that he did not know. As of October 2013, Vantrease remains incarcerated at the St. Mary’s Correctional Center in West Virginia, which is for the custody, control and care of adult male felons who have been convicted of severe crimes against man or nature. Though the Criminal Court has ordered both May and Vantrease to pay approximately $102,000 in restitution, they have contributed just $125 in four years.
Ken Diviney filed civil suit on Ryan’s behalf; Diviney and McLhinney v. Vantrease, May, et al. Judge Irene Keeley, maneuvered to settle the suit in what was suggested as misuse of judicial authority. It was not only absent the Diviney’s consent, but strongly opposed to it. The judgement was for an undisclosed (court sealed) amount that was described by Ryan’s father as “pennies on the dollar… that fell pennies short to be exchanged for a single nickel.”
The civil case, in United States Federal Court, did result in two landmark rulings:
- The Constitutional right to freedom of expression. A Vantrease’s motion was defeated to place a restraining order the website, ryansrally.org. Website and blog owners hailed this as a major victory.
- That tangible, non-tangible, and financial donations made to a victim may not be used to offset or reduce a defendant’s financial liability awarded to the plaintiff.
Daily care for Ryan involves hygiene, feeding through a tube, physical therapy, vibration therapy, tactile and sensation therapy, electrical stimulation therapy, hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT), oral care, bowel and urine protocols, and the administration of dozens of medications and supplements, among others. Though he has showed no clear signs of consciousness since his injury, Ryan’s family talks to him in positive tones, in the hope that some part of him can understand.
Many aspects of Ryan’s therapy is considered groundbreaking for those who suffer Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). He is recognized as the first with the extreme brain injury, known as Severe Disorders of Consciousness, to employ functional electrical stimulation (FES) exercises that trigger the muscles, albeit involuntarily, to engage in resistance training. Ryan was also the first confirmed person to use a hyperbaric oxygen chamber in his extreme condition.
The cost of Ryan’s care, comfort, and treatment is roughly $2 million annually. The Divineys have private health insurance that helps cover some of this expense, but a significant amount of the financial burden is not covered because brain injury treatment and recovery is mostly unknown and considered “experimental.”
According to medical experts at the time of the initial injury, the odds of Ryan ever regaining consciousness were only between ten and twenty percent, and with each passing year since the injury those odds are greatly reduced. Even if that were to occur, Ryan would likely remain at a diminished capacity. The average life expectancy for someone in a vegetative state is between eight to ten years. All aspects of Ryan’s care and treatment are overseen by his father, Ken. The Diviney family maintains a popular opinion-based web site, Ryansrally.org (owned by Ryan’s Rally LLC), that provides regular updates on Ryan’s status, a blog, solicitation of donations, upcoming events, and other information.
Washington Post, Dec. 2, 2010: Since beating that left student in coma, his father has kept a constant vigil.
NBC Today Show, Dec. 15, 2010: Mother of Beaten Teen: I Pray He Wakes”
- Attacker Denied Parole, The Dominion Post, July 23, 2013.
- West Virginia Department of Corrections Website.
- Judge Won’t Recommend Restraining Order in Diviney Case, The Dominion Post, June 6, 2012.
- Judge Keeley Denies Austin Vantrease Request for Donor List. November 30, 2012.
John, I like the way you call ’em like you see ’em! And, John, wondering if any of their ilk can ride a bike!! Their participation could go a long way… …
Thank you for all you do, kind friend. You are a blessing sent directly from God.
Following is the beginning of my post that for some reason wasn’t included:
Ken, this is indeed exciting news! Josh, how can we ever thank you? We can only imagine the great amount of work you have put into this article for Wikipedia, one of the first places I check for information. I am an avid supporter of Wikipedia, and I know others are also. This is a good thing — the best!
John Maletta says
I was just reading Andy Vantrease’s latest pathetic effort to soften their story on her blog page in order to gain sympathy for her brother, Austin the Thug. Wow, that chick is even dumber than I originally thought — and trust me, she’s demonstrated enough to make me wonder if she’s got two neurons in her pretty little head to rub together. Nice to see (sarcasm intended) that the Vantrease family is willing to help Ryan ONLY AFTER Austin the Thug is released from prison. That’s really rich, Andy. Thanks for the bulletin board material — idiot.
What I like best about the article is that it is not wearisome, but concise and interesting, although difficult to remember the past. Quite tough, actually–but still–really great writing here, Josh.
As far as documentation, now that can get wearisome! Exhaustive doc/resourses, especially those items that are common knowledge, are unnecessary, and Al Burick will be of invaluable help here with his experience wwriting articles for Wikipedia. Thank you, Al Burick.
Thank you, Ken for sharing the Wikipedia article with us before publication. This calls for a celebration when published; don’t you agree? Gail, are you listening? !! Going out to buy cake supplies!
I love you, Ken, Sue, Ryan and Kari. You are always on my mind. Love and prayers.
Rhonda Morin says
Since blogs don’t have it yet: LIKE (yes quite tough but awesome writing).
Great wok by Josh. Very professional.
Thank you to Josh for preparing this well thought out article for Wikipedia!! I am praying more people around the world will learn about what happened to our Ryan and choose to get involved with his care and recovery.
Ryan becomes more relevant every day as his courage and fortitude continue to strengthen and motivate friends and strangers alike. We look up to Ryan and we believe in him 110%. How grateful I am to know him and his family. One cannot know the Divineys without being richly blessed in return.
Keep pushing that envelope, Ryan — keep showing the world that “impossible” is just a word.
With my love, faith, hugs and prayers, Paula
Such an impressive summary of Ryan’s story, Josh — that the whole world may finally know, learn and be moved on behalf of the Divineys. We can’t wait to see the final approved article!
Elana Canetti says
Looks great! This is such a great step for keeping his story relevant and spreading awareness of his story!
Rhonda Morin says
So many things about Ryan I never knew. Senator Ryan! Josh you rock for doing this.
On a personal note, I hate the words “vegetative state.” I know that is what they call it but severe traumatic brain injury is what I prefer to call his state. And I disagree with his prognosis being worse than it was when the attack first happened. I know that the longer you are “asleep” the less chance of waking but no one has what Ryan has, Ken, Sue and Kari. And it does take time for the brain to heal and nerves to reroute themselves.
I agree about the links/resources, there needs to be more, sucks yes, but they like interlinking to other sites and the more you have the better. I cut and pasted and added notes where I thought there should be some note about the item, or where curious minds want to know. That is below. And HI RYAN HOPE YOU ARE HAVING A FABULOUS DAY! CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR ABOUT YOU GETTING INTO THE HOT TUB AGAIN!
In the first paragraph a link/resource to the news coverage about his attack.
innovation in brain injury treatment: link/resource to a search page on this site about all the innovation that he is doing
several landmark rulings in the country’s Federal Courts: link/resource to anything public about this
Broad Run High School (Ashburn, VA): link/resource to Broad Run HS, Loudoun County Schools and something about Ashburn.
(named to the Top 50 prospects in the state of Virginia in just his sophomore year): link/resource
All-District team three consecutive years: link/resource
West Virginia University: link/resource again
***Assault and Brain Injury***
WVU student Jonathon May: link/resource to his court stuff, conviction, etc.
Austin Vantrease: same as May
according to witness testimony: link/resource to the newspaper/TV coverage
(Oh my god this is hard to read.)
fractured skull … bleeding of the brain: link/resource for how this is done, see below
Ruby Memorial hospital (Morgantown, WV): link/resource
only chance of survival involved the removal of a portion of skull: name of the procedure and link/resource (I didn’t know how this worked keeping the brain cap in the stomach and why until Ken explained it)
neurological storming (also called “brain storming”): link/resources
Correction: As he no longer blink/resources, his eyes have been sewn shut to prevent further damage ::::to his cornea (is that right?)
Newark, Delaware: link/resource
arrested within weeks of the attack: link/resource to info about arrest
Morgantown Police: link/resource (is it Morgantown Police or Mongehelia County? However it’s spelled.)
In July, 2010, both were criminally convicted in West Virginia State Court. May was convicted of misdemeanor battery and sentenced to a year in jail; he served 7 months of the sentence. Vantrease was convicted of felony malicious assault and sentenced to 2 – 10 years, with a chance for parole after two years. He has been denied parole twice, in 2012 and 2013: a link/resource to all of this somehow
Vantrease answered that he did not know: link/resource to the article with this testimony – I guess you already have that one
St. Mary’s Correctional Center in West Virginia: link/resource
May and Vantrease to pay approximately $102,000 in restitution, they have contributed just $125 in four years.: link/resource to resource
“pennies on the dollar… that fell pennies short to be exchanged for a single nickel.”: link/resource to article about this (is this true???)
feeding through a tube: link/resource
vibration therapy: link/resource
electrical stimulation therapy: link/resource
hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT): link/resource
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): link/resource
Severe Disorders of Consciousness: link/resource
functional electrical stimulation (FES) exercises that trigger the muscles: link/resource
the odds of Ryan ever regaining consciousness were only between ten and twenty percent, and with each passing year since the injury those odds are greatly reduced: link/resource
Amazing work, I learned way more than I knew before and my heart is completely crushed and heavy. Josh, you are awesome!!!!
Ryan's Rally LLC says
Rhonda, Thank you for the detailed advise. I’ll print your comment and begin working through the improvements.
Rhonda Morin says
I would actually like to hire Josh to do some work. Amazing job!!!!!
John Maletta says
Well done, Ken!
Gail Doyle says
Looks good Ken.Thanks
carla liberty says
Excellent job, Josh and Ken!
Also ,great suggestions by Al and Anna.
Al Burick says
Looks good, I would only suggest that using as many sources as possible. I’ve written several Wikipedia pages for work and if there are not enough sources, the editors won’t hesitate to delete it. Miss you guys!!
Ryan's Rally LLC says
From your experience, what would be considered an acceptable amount of sources? If they would delete it, can it be resubmitted?
WOW! This is amazing! Informative and concise. Don’t you love the word “manhunt” in the Aftermath Section. It’s a great verb! The new comer to Ryan’s story will get the basics in just a few short minutes instead of reading through many years of Ryan’s Rally Blogs. Readers can then pick and choose which aspects to explore more in-depth. I am interested in reading about Judge Irene Keeley and her judicial history and decisions, I hope others are also.
Others might pick Jonathan May and Austin Vantrease and google their names. If I were new to the site thats what I would explore more. Who are these two criminals?
Josh hats off to you! Thanks for doing this you did a more than great job! Again, this is amazing!
Ryan's Rally: We Got This via Facebook says
Website comments are working now.
Ryan's Rally LLC says
After Wikipedia approves the article, the next revision will add content about “Team Diviney” and all the initiatives they have done!