Family, Friends Host Fund Raiser on Sunday for Burn Victim

Michael Hubbard, 14-year old burned in an accident on Saturday, remains in intensive care unit.

Family and friends have already started rallying for a 14-year-old boy who suffered third-degree burns in a backyard accident on Saturday evening.

As Michael Hubbard was helping three of his cousins set up for a party at their home on Rabbit Run to celebrate the marriage of his aunt and uncle, wed the night before, he caught on fire from a citronella gel candle, which spread to his face and chest, according to witnesses.

He was rushed to Stony Brook University Medical Center, where he remains in the pediatric intensive care unit.

Hubbard's uncle, Curtis Johnson, said his son Kris was with the Riverhead High School freshman during the accident. Though the two have a "love-hate" relationship - "as many cousins do," he said - he said Kris remains in good spirits for his cousin's recovery.

As does the rest of the family.

Johnson and his new bride, Fran Reyer-Johnson, turned the party they had planned for Saturday into a fundraiser for Hubbard on Sunday. Johnson is already planning a car wash to raise funds, and has set up an account through Caring Bridge tracking updates on the boy, with a link allowing for donations. 

The last post, written on Monday afternoon by Reyer-Johnson, said that her nephew has burns on 40 percent of his body, according to doctors, and remains sedated. Reyer-Johnson also wrote that Hubbard's vital organs are starting to work properly and doctors are "pleased with his progress."

Johnson credited "good neighbor" Jerry Halpin for running to the aid of Hubbard on Saturday night. Halpin said he was sitting on his back deck when he saw a flame come from the tent with Hubbard and his cousins.

Grabbing a fire extinguisher from just inside his house, Halpin sprinted around the fence while Hubbard's mother, Nancy Reyer, came to his aid and burned herself in the process, telling her son to roll on the ground. Halpin got to Hubbard just in time to blow off the flame still burning on his chest.

Halpin likened the citronella gel to napalm, or a sterno candle, burning itself and spreading easily.

Megan Geerling May 31, 2011 at 08:02 PM
Hello - this article came to me through a news alert. We just want to let the family know that there is help should you wish to connect to other survivors and their families. I work with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors and we are a national nonprofit dedicated to helping burn survivors get back to living through peer support and recovery tools. We have a family and childrens program as well. Please feel free to email us info@phoenix-society.org or www.phoenix-society.org if we can help. Thinking of you -- Megan - Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors.
alisà June 13, 2011 at 03:15 PM
The same type of candle exploded on my husband friday evening in Granger IN. I was phoned the news while I visit my family with our 6 year old daughter in VA. My husband sat on our neighbors deck as the same type of citronella gel candle exploded and shot like a fireball into his lap. Quickly the gel covered his legs and hands as he tried to shield himself. He was rushed to the hospital and overnight transferred to the burn victims unit in Kalamazoo MI where he remains. All gel candle MUST be taken off the market! Allie76nindy@yahoo.com
jean h June 13, 2011 at 04:43 PM
important info for those wishing to donate: the donation site thru caringbridge is NOT money that goes to the victim's family... that money goes to caringbridge to support the website!!! if you want to donate TO THE FAMILY there is an account at SCNB and there is a way to donate online thru paypal w/info given in thru riverheadlocal.com the above article is misleading!
Dawn Betke June 13, 2011 at 05:31 PM
you can also paypal any donations directly to freyer@riverheadlocal.com these donations will go into the account at SCNB that Michael's Aunt set up.


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