MORGANTOWN – For the last decade, Ken Diviney’s mission has been clearly defined: care for his son Ryan, a former WVU student who was beaten into an unconscious state during an attack in Morgantown. Following Ryan’s August death, Ken has a new mission. He wants to carry on Ryan’s legacy and get justice for his son.
“He [Ryan] gave so much to this world. He took care of the people who were bullied. He had the social clout to carry himself however he wanted and he chose to use that in a good way. I want to bring that out to people,” Diviney said Thursday during an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.”
The life of Ryan Diviney will be remembered at noon Friday during a bell ringing ceremony on the WVU downtown campus. The Divineys are in Morgantown for the ceremony.
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) November 7, 2019
Ken Diviney, who admitted he remains angry for what happened to his son, is also exploring legal actions to pursue against the two men responsible for cutting Ryan’s life short.
“I knew that I would never relent in bringing complete justice for Ryan when it occurred to me many years ago that I stopped praying that there is a heaven and started praying that there’s a hell,” Diviney said. “Hell might be too good for the people who did this to us. Any father might feel this way.”
Ryan Diviney was a student at West Virginia University in the fall 2009. On Nov. 7, 2009, he was brutally attacked in a parking lot outside of a Willey Street Dairy Mart. As an argument over the World Series escalated, Diviney took a punch that knocked him to the ground, then kicked in the head, causing irrecoverable brain injuries.
Dealing with a grim prognosis, Ken and his family never wavered on what to do for Ryan. Just weeks prior to the attack, the topic of comas came up in conversation after Ryan’s mother, Sue, had dealt with sleep paralysis. Ryan made it clear to his parents what he wanted.
“He said if that ever happens to me, you do everything you can for me. And we did, every day. We made the promise and at the time we didn’t know the gravity of that promise but we made it and we kept it,” Ken said.
As Ken’s life became devoted to the constant care for Ryan, a decade a near sleepless nights ensued. Ken wouldn’t allow himself to slip into a deep sleep, drinking large amounts of water so he would have to wake up during the night, allowing him to check on his son.
Meanwhile, the two men convicted for the attack that left Ryan in the vegetative state, served their prison sentences and moved on.
Jonathan May, who punched Diviney, knocking him to the ground that night, was convicted of battery and served seven months in prison.
Austin Vantrease, who delivered the kick that caused catastrophic brain damage, was convicted for malicious assault and was granted parole after serving four years of a 10-year prison sentence.
“From my family’s observations, we’ve not seen any remorse from the attackers, in fact, we’ve seen quite the opposite.”
According to Ken, Vantrease filed a motion requesting that any gifts from others to the Diviney family, offset any financial obligations he had to Ryan. It was just one example Ken pointed to illustrating the family’s belief May and Vantrease have not accepted responsibility for what his family has endured.
“I’m angry. I’m a dad who lost a kid to violence. Every dad who has ever come to me has asked ‘how are you able to cope with that?’ I said there will come a day when I’ll have that but right now I need to take care of my son. That day has come an everything is on the table.”
The Diviney family has ordered autopsy to determine Ryan’s exact cause of death and the results of that autopsy could determine how the family plans to proceed from a legal standpoint. If autopsy results indicate Ryan’s death was a direct result of the injuries he suffered during the attack in Morgantown a decade ago, Ken is confident new criminal charges could be brought against May and Vantrease.
“There are two paths to go here. I’ve been talking to legal counsel on this. There’s a civil aspect to it we can go down too. They won’t be charged under the same charge, it would be murder or manslaughter. I’m going to explore every option.”
As the next chapter for the Diviney family unfolds, Ken is adamant that the constant support of people from Morgantown and the state of West Virginia has been a blessing for him, his wife and daughter.
“For the people of West Virginia, one of the great blessings in my life aside from family, is community and I consider West Virginia, Morgantown and West Virginia University part of that community. Thanks to these people, they’ve held me up to this very day,” Ken asserted.
“There were times when my knees would just buckle under me but there were people out there feeding me more line as I was trying to get above the fray. It’s because of the people of West Virginia and Morgantown and people like them that Ryan remains relevant, ten years after the attack. My family needs you, I need and Ryan still needs you.”