MIAMI – A South Florida teen who was doused with rubbing alcohol and set on fire suffers from night terrors and won't be returning to live in his family's old neighborhood, his mother said Wednesday.
Valerie Brewer, whose son Michael was discharged from Jackson Memorial Hospital's burn center Tuesday, praised the teen's determination and spirit at a press conference. Brewer's son was the target of a gruesome attack on Oct. 12 that left him with burns on about 65 percent of his body.
"I'm just ecstatic," she told reporters. "He's just so incredible. His strength, his determination, his will to survive. ... He's just incredible."
On his first night out the hospital, Brewer lounged around on the couch and watched a movie on television with his family, his mother said. He enjoyed the night air and requested a pizza for dinner.
"He had a very relaxing night," Valerie Brewer said. "He's in very high spirits today. Being out of the hospital and being in a homey environment is incredibly uplifting, and he's really looking forward to spending Christmas with his family."
Police said that Michael Brewer, 15, was attacked by other teens at a South Florida apartment complex. The incident happened a day after Michael called police when some of the other boys tried to steal his father's bike. Michael might also have owed one of the boys money for a video game.
Prosecutors have charged Denver Colorado Jarvis, Jesus Mendez and Matthew Bent as adults with second-degree attempted murder in connection to the attack.
Brewer won't be moving back into his old home in Deerfield Beach, his mother said. The families of the teens who are accused of the attack live nearby, she said, and her son no longer feels safe in his former neighborhood. She didn't disclose where he is currently staying during his recovery.
"He doesn't want to go back and I don't blame him," she said. "We're looking forward to moving on and having some peace."
Brewer might be out of the hospital, but his recovery is hardly over. Dr. Louis Pizano, a trauma surgeon at the Miami hospital, said the teen will undergo physical therapy that is expected to continue for months. Simple tasks like taking a shower can still be painful, and his mother said returning to a traditional classroom environment isn't possible yet. He's also seeing a therapist to help cope with the emotional trauma.
"He's going to have to deal with this for the rest of his life," Valerie Brewer said.
Pizano said the teen still has some open wounds, and though Brewer can walk, therapists are working to improve his gait and range of his motion. Pizano also said Brewer's attitude has been a key to his quick recovery, saying Brewer worked diligently during an extremely painful process.
"The real reason for that is because of Michael's stamina, his endurance and basically his desire to improve," Pizano said. "Michael's worked with us very, very hard. He spends a lot of time with therapists. He just, he does what we ask him to do. It's very painful and it's hard for an adult to accomplish what he's done. We have to give him a lot of credit and a lot of credit to the family."