LAKE WALES, Fla. - Florida's in-state college football rivalry between the Gators and Seminoles is legendary, but it may have led to a violent attack that left a Frostproof teenager with serious injuries to his face.
Trent Gravley, 18, attended a party following the game Saturday night along Walk-in-Water Road in Lake Wales. He was wearing a Gators hoodie, and Polk County sheriff's deputies said 18-year old Dylan Massey and two other men decided to fight him and a friend.
Gravley was leaving the party, according to investigators, when he was struck from behind.
"I don't remember anything from that point. I guess someone knocked me out," Gravley said.
Witnesses told investigators that Massey and the other two suspects, both in their 20's, continued punching Gravley in the face.
"My first memory was being carried. I was holding on to my friend's shoulders and being carried into my friend's bedroom," Gravley said. He slept for several hours, and when he woke up, he realized the seriousness of his injuries.
"I couldn't believe it. I was just in shock," Gravley said.
Kay Gravley said she got a phone call about her son the next morning, and rushed over to see what happened. She ended up being the person to call for help.
"When he walked out of that house, I just fell to pieces," Gravley said about seeing her injured son.
"I was disappointed nobody called 9-1-1," she said. "If they had called right then, the men would have been arrested that night."
Deputies were able to catch Massey, but the other two suspects are at large.
Gravley was examined by a doctor Wednesday and was told he will need emergency surgery on Monday to insert a metal plate in his face. He suffered fractures above both his eyes.
A gruesome photograph of Gravley's injuries was taken shortly after the attack, and it was posted on Facebook. Since then, the teenager has received a flood of support.
"The response has been unbelievable," said his mother. "People from all over, calling, texting, sending us messages," she said.
Gravley's brother Austin said he was upset that older men would intentionally crash a party for teenagers and start picking fights.
"They really don't have much of a life," he said. "To even go to a party with teenagers like that, it's embarrassing, honestly."
Gravley's mom is hoping the publicity about her son's injuries will send a message about the importance of stepping forward and calling authorities after a crime has been committed. She also wants more awareness about the problem of bullying.
"I think this is opening a lot of eyes to a lot of people on the severity of what's going on at these teenage parties, and bullies coming in and getting away with it," she said.
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Another warm and humid day with a chance for mainly inland afternoon storms.