No. 4 Top News Story: Michael Hubbard returns to Riverhead

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Michael Hubbard and mon, Nancy Reyer, in his room at Peconic Bay Medical Center's skilled nursing facility Thursday afternoon.
CARRIE MILLER FILE PHOTO | Michael Hubbard and mon, Nancy Reyer, in his room at Peconic Bay Medical Center’s skilled nursing facility.

After years of rehabilitation upstate, a local teenager who was severely injured in a gel candle explosion two years ago came home this June, just as a nonprofit organization is readying a long-term home for him and other young people suffering from traumatic brain injuries.

Michael Hubbard was 15 when he suffered third-degree burns over 40 percent of his body after being burned by a gel candle that exploded in his backyard May 28, 2011.

He went into cardiac arrest a week later, causing traumatic brain injury as well as kidney failure and lung distress. Originally taken to Stony Brook University Medical Center, Michael was moved that September to Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Westchester County.

He had been recuperating slowly, learning to speak again, but the hospital could no longer accommodate him. That’s when Peconic Bay Medical Center officials called his mother, Nancy Reyer.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Ms. Reyer said of the opportunity to move her son back to Riverhead.

Michael will remain at PBMC until a home currently under development on Sound Avenue is completed. The facility, called Brendan House, is being built the nonprofit New Beginnings.

Editor’s note: We’re counting down the top 10 news stories of 2013. Check back every day until Jan. 1 to follow along.