Riverhead boy in ICU with mom at bedside

COURTESY PHOTO | Michael Hubbard

The 14-year-old boy who was severely burned Saturday while lighting a gel candle at his aunt’s Riverhead home is still recovering in the pediatric intensive care unit at Stony Brook University Medical Center.

The Riverhead community has been rallying behind Michael Hubbard, a Riverhead High School freshman who was helping set up for a wedding celebration at his aunt Fran Reyer-Johnson’s home on Rabbit Run when the accident occurred.

Ms. Reyer-Johnson, who married her now-husband, Curtis, on Friday, said she was at a neighbor’s house when the accident occurred about 7:30 p.m.

“My son called and we couldn’t understand him,” she said. “He just kept saying fire and Michael.”

She said Michael ran out onto the home’s front lawn and that his mother, Nancy Reyer, was also burned while trying to extinguish the flames.

Michael suffered third-degree burns over 40 percent of his body during the incident.

He was taken via ambulance to Stony Brook University Medical Center. Ms. Reyer was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center for treatment of her injuries and released. She has been staying at Michael’s side since, her sister said.

Ms. Reyer recently started a new job after being laid off from the Riverhead OTB location when it closed last month and does not yet have medical insurance, her sister said. Michael is insured, but Ms. Reyer-Johnson said it will most likely not cover all his medical bills.

Ms. Reyer-Johnson opened a bank account Tuesday at Suffolk County National Bank under the name Michael Hubbard Fund.
She said the outpouring of support from the community has been overwhelming.

As of Wednesday afternoon, about 60 well-wishers had posted messages of support on a website set up to update friends and family on Michael’s condition. (Editor’s note: The ‘Donate Now’ box on the right side of Michael’s web page — — goes to supporting the website, and not Michael and his family.)

“I have been thinking about you all day, and sending all the strength and good wishes I can muster,” one poster wrote.
“I cannot believe that pain like this can be inflicted on such great people,” wrote another.

Michael’s teammates on the high school bowling team are planning a fundraiser, as is the Riverhead Republican club and/or committee, of which his mother was chairman until stepping down earlier this year, Ms. Reyer-Johnson said.

When Michael’s condition improves, he will be moved to the burn center, where he will likely stay for at least three to four weeks, his aunt said.

“At this point they are waiting for the swelling to go down,” she said. “Then they could move him.”

She also delivered a warning for anyone else using gel citronella candles this summer.

“They are very flammable and [the manufacturers] don’t tell you that,” she said.

To send a donation, make checks payable to Michael Hubbard Fund, c/o Fran Reyer, 81 Rabbit Run, Riverhead NY 11901. Or visit

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