Spinal injury caused loss of feeling for WSU basketball player


First-year Wright State University student Ryan Custer was seriously injured at a party at 305 S. Main Street on Saturday afternoon, April 8. Custer was flown to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where he underwent surgery that night.

Custer, a basketball player at WSU, was falling or diving into a shallow makeshift pool made from a blue tarp and hay bales. According to Oxford Fire Chief John Detherage, Custer collided with another person’s knee when he slid into the pool, causing the injury. Bystanders said Custer was facedown in the water for about 10 to 15 seconds before others removed him from the pool.

According to a Facebook page created by Custer’s family, he has no feeling from the waist down.

“The doctors hope in time he will continue to get feeling, but there is a long road ahead of him,” reads a post from Sunday evening.

Custer has only one injury — a fractured C5 vertebrae — but the injury caused severe trauma, the post said. The C5 is the fifth of seven vertebrae located at the base of the skull and is significant when determining the likely consequences of neck and spinal injuries.

According to information from the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Health Library, the higher up an injury is on the spinal cord — from the C1 to the C5 vertebrae — the more serious its effects.

Custer’s surgery to repair the spinal cord damage went as planned, the post said, and he has regained feeling and some movement in his arms and shoulders.

Saturday’s party, hosted by the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, at is an annual event, called “Kimonawanalaya.” Partygoers wear Hawaiian garb — or some don kimonos ― and the hosts set up a makeshift pool and island decor in the house’s backyard.

Oxford Police told the 300 to 400 party attendees to leave after Oxford Life Squad transported Custer. Police arrested one woman leaving the party for underage alcohol possession.

A graduate of Elder High School in Cincinnati, Custer just completed his first basketball season with the WSU Raiders. The 19-year-old forward played 32 games, averaging 9.8 minutes and 2.2 points a game. At Elder, Custer captained the team his senior year and was among the all-time leaders for threes made at the school.

A message posted to the page on Monday expressed the family’s deep appreciation for the support Custer has received since his injury. Players from WSU’s basketball team as well as Custer’s high school teammates have already made visits to the UC hospital.

“It’s so great to see how many people love Ryan as much as we do,” the post reads.

At the time of publication, over 2,200 people were following Custer’s recovery through the Facebook page.