Riverhead burn victim moved to Westchester rehabilitative hospital

COURTESY PHOTO | Michael Hubbard

The Riverhead teen who was severely burned in a gel candle accident in May was moved to a rehabilitative children’s hospital in Westchester County Tuesday.

Fifteen-year-old Michael Hubbard, who has been treated for burns and brain trauma at Stony Brook University Medical Center since the accident, was moved by the same Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance team that first brought him to the hospital, his aunt Fran Reyer-Johnson said.

Michael was moved to Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, N.Y., where he will receive treatment and testing not available at Stony Brook.

“Keep Nancy and Michael in your prayers,” Ms. Reyer-Johnson said in an email just before the trip.

Ms. Reyer-Johnson said Michael’s mother, Nancy Reyer, who followed the ambulance in her own car, would stay in Michael’s hospital room for the first few weeks.

Michael, who was deprived of oxygen during the accident, is responsive to some touch and sounds, though he is not completely conscious. Ms. Reyer-Johnson said she hopes the treatment he receives at Blythedale will enable him to talk again.

“He does have a good chance to get out of it,” Ms. Reyer-Johnson said.

Michael was injured after pouring fuel into an already lit wickless gel candle on May 28.

His mother also suffered less severe injuries during the incident.

The product’s manufacturer, Napa Home and Garden, voluntarily pulled the gel fuel and fire pots from the shelves after several accidents. In August, nine other gel fuel manufacturers pulled their products from stores as well.

The Riverhead community has rallied around the family, raising thousands of dollars to help cover incidentals. Michael’s mother has been on unpaid leave since the accident.
The family continues to accept donations to help cover living expenses. Checks can be made out to the Michael Hubbard Fund and mailed to Suffolk Federal Credit Union, 316 Flanders Road, Riverhead, NY 11901.

Michael’s mother posts updates on her son’s recovery blog at

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