One of the most enjoyable pleasures of life on the East End is access to the water for not only swimming, surfing and fishing, but the chance to dive right in for a quick cool-off on a warm day. Unfortunately, avid natural adventurer, Matthew Raynor, 29, and a resident of Hampton Bays, was gravely injured in a diving accident doing just that near Towd Point in North Sea.
Matthew is a commercial fisherman, clammer, bayman, world traveler and photographer. According to Jonathan, his older brother by four years, “Matthew is a devotee of nature and is more comfortable and connected outdoors than indoors.”
The accident occurred on April 18, according to Matthew’s father, Neil. “He wanted to enjoy a beautiful spring day and go swimming. He was with his friend, Jerome, and dove off the back of his truck. The water was low and may have been a contributing factor, but we are just grateful his friend was with him, and realized something was wrong. He retrieved Matt from the water and immediately called for help,” Neil relayed.
A medevac helicopter was used to transport Matthew to an area hospital following the assistance of Southampton Volunteer Ambulance first responders, as well as members of the North Sea Fire Department, and two Southampton Town Bay Constables who assisted at the scene.
Matthew’s injuries are severe, and have “Resulted in the paralysis of the upper chest through his lower extremities, as well as having limited control of his arms and hands.” His injuries will require expensive, extensive and lengthy rehabilitation. Following his hospitalization at Stony Brook University Hospital, Matthew was transferred to Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan for rehabilitation. “My wife, Jane, is a nurse practitioner and has been really able to stay on top of Matthew’s progress,” said Neil.
Jonathan established a GoFundMe page, www.gofundme.com, with a goal of reaching $150,000, which has been in place for approximately a week with donations exceeding $32,000 thus far. “We are doing the best we can with what we have to work with. It has been a bit difficult and expensive coordinating day trips driving or on the Hampton Jitney to get to Manhattan as much as we all would like to, but Matthew is at a fine facility and Jane has been staying with friends in the city as much as possible. I am happy to report that Matthew is experiencing more and more sensation,” relayed Neil.
Jonathan candidly revealed, “We need to get Matthew into another facility as his Medicaid is coming to end and he can’t stay at Mt. Sinai past June 11. I am reaching out to the community or anyone that might be able to recommend a rehabilitation facility in the city, Long Island or even out-of-state that can accept Matthew. He requires acute, long-term, four to five hours a day, six days a week intensive rehabilitation, and we can’t find it – nor will Medicaid pay for it.”
“I want my boy back, and we just want to get him back to where he used to be,” is the heartfelt sentiment expressed by Neil. “With our insurance due to run out shortly, we just want to extend our sincere appreciation to friends, strangers and our community who have shown such an outpouring of concern and support.”