MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The father of the West Virginia University sophomore who has remained in a coma since being critically injured in a fight in Morgantown in 2009 plans to talk about the emotional toll his son’s injuries have taken on his entire family during a parole hearing Wednesday for one of his attackers.
“Every time the phone rings, it reminds us of the time we got the call from Ruby Memorial Hospital on Ryan’s phone, so there’s terror every time the phone rings,” Ken Diviney said.
“There’s depression, despair, anxiety. I’ve learned to hate and be untrusting and I don’t like it, but I can’t prevent it.”
Austin Vantrease, 23, has served four years of a two to ten year sentence for malicious assault, a felony charge, for kicking Ryan Diviney in the head when he fell on the ground during a fight that started with an argument about the World Series outside of the Willey Street Dairy Mart back in Nov. 2009.
Wednesday will mark Vantrease’s third attempt at parole.
His co-defendant, Jonathan May, reportedly returned to Delaware after serving seven months for battery for his role in the fight. He punched Diviney which caused him to fall. The kick to the head came after that.
More than four years later, Ryan Diviney has never recovered. “He’s progressing, but it’s just very, very slow and the prognosis isn’t good long-term. He recently just went in for a surgery to have his skull plate removed so, right now, he’s without a third of his skull,” his dad said when asked for an update on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
“Physically, he’s in much better shape than when he nearly died there early on. His strength has recovered and he’s maintaining his weight. But, cognitively, the changes are not as noticeable as the physical,” Diviney said. Ryan will likely spend the rest of his life in a coma and can never be left alone.
“I believe that there might be flashes of consciousness or recognition or awareness, but it’s so fleeting that I can’t say with certainty,” Diviney said.
Because of Ryan’s injuries, Diviney said Vantrease should be denied parole again. “I don’t think anybody would find it just for him to be released after just four years for the damage he inflicted,” he said. “It was just a brutal attack.”
Vantrease is serving his time at St. Mary’s Correctional Center in Pleasants County.