Kyle Barrett will serve prison time for causing a boating accident in 2019

STUART — A Palm City man accused of causing a 2019 boating accident that killed his wife and a 20-month-old daughter on Tuesday was sentenced to four years in prison followed by six years probation.

But before learning of her punishment, Kyle Barrett, 34, listened to Leanne Matakaetis in court describe her late daughter Hudson as “a true blessing” with a spirit that “shined on everyone she came in contact with”.

Her husband Michael Matakaetis and a dozen family members watched as she spoke as a prosecutor held up a large framed photo of Hudson to show Circuit Judge Sherwood Bauer.

“I wrote you several letters. However, I was unable to send them; I feel like I’m living in denial,” Leanne Matakaetis, 39, told Bauer. “If I were to come out of this grieving phase, I couldn’t continue.”

The PTSD she still suffers from “is unbearable,” she said standing at a podium, with Barrett, dressed in a dark suit, seated a few feet behind her.

plea agreement: Kyle Barrett pleads to ship homicide charges in 2019 boating crash that killed his wife and 20-month-old daughter

Paige Barrette: Wife and mother who died in a boating accident, “a light that went out too soon”

Previously: Fatal crash near Sewall’s Point, a “warning signal” for boaters

During his sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Bauer found Barrett guilty of two counts of ship homicide related to the Oct. 27, 2019 boating accident in the Intracoastal Waterway near Sandsprit Park that also killed his wife. , Paige Barrett, 28, of Palm City.

The Matakaetises, who were also on the boat, are known to own several local restaurants, including the Stuart Boathouse and Hudson’s on the River, a Stuart restaurant named in memory of their daughter.

Barrett, who remained free on $152,000 bail, faced a maximum prison sentence of 30 years for the two felony convictions, court records show.

As part of a plea deal reached in September, state prosecutors dropped two counts of BUI manslaughter that Barrett had also faced since his arrest in connection with the crash. boat caused when the 26-foot center console boat he was operating collided with a 10-foot-tall, unlit. wooden channel marker southeast of Sewall’s Point, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

It was the Sunday before Halloween around 8:15 p.m.

A total of eight people, including four adults and four children, were on board when the ship crashed into channel marker 238, ejecting five, the FWC reported.

The general location where the accident occurred is known to local boaters as “the cut”.

Leanne Matakaetis blamed Barrett squarely, insisting to Bauer “this whole nightmare could have been avoided.”

“I told him to slow down and I yelled that it was dark and watch where we were going,” she said. “We never should have made the cut in the dark at this speed. Kyle made these decisions thinking he had it. His choice, his mistake, our loss.

Later, Assistant State’s Attorney Richard Bodek argued that Barrett should serve 14 years in prison followed by 4½ years probation.

He said the consequences of Barrett’s actions that night were “foreseeable”.

“The pain that everyone feels in this courtroom is solely due to the defendant’s decisions that night,” Bodek said.

He further maintained that it was Barrett’s choice to operate the boat in the dark and take a shortcut, despite problems with the boat’s GPS system, while going “at a speed and in a situation where all the factors work against him and he crashes into the pile.

“And we have two dead people,” Bodek said. “He could have been careful, he could have slowed down, he could have taken the long way, but he didn’t.”

Barrett’s Statement

When Barrett addressed Bauer, he briefly confronted the Matakaetis family.

Kyle Barrett, 34, of Palm City, faces the family of Hudson Matakaetis, who died in a 2019 boating accident he was found guilty of during his sentencing hearing at the Martin County Courthouse on November 15, 2022.

“I am here to share that I have a repentant heart about this tragic accident. Anyone who knows me knows my only intention that night was to bring our families home safely,” he said. he said “My life has been dedicated to transporting people safely and that night my lifelong boating experience failed me and a tragic accident occurred.”

Barrett said he was sorry and remorseful.

“I have the deepest regret for the misjudgment I made at those times and I accept the responsibility that rests on my shoulders,” he said, as some in the audience sobbed softly. .

His attorney, Robert Watson, insisted that Barrett never intended to harm anyone that night and that those on the boat were family and friends.” whom he most wanted to protect”.

“There’s no one he would have wanted to protect more,” Watson said.

He urged Bauer to sentence Barrett to one year of community control and four years of probation.

Maritime rules were broken that night, Watson acknowledges, but he added that other factors also contributed to the accident.

“It’s a perfect storm of things gone wrong,” he said.

Watson called that night a “fluid situation” as it was dark and they approached an unlit channel marker.

“It’s a situation he’s reacting to, as he goes through it,” Watson said. “Should he have gone slower? He knows he should have gone slower.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement officials determined that approximately 2.5 hours after the accident, Kyle Barrett’s blood alcohol level was 0.095 – above the legal limit of 0.08.

Paige Barrette

However, defense attorney Robert Watson later challenged those results and the treatment of Barrett’s blood evidence, culminating in retesting in June which revealed that only one of three samples of Blood drawn showed alcohol, with a blood alcohol level between 0.083 and 0.085, according to court records. .

Family aquatic outing

That day, the Barrett and Matakaetis families had sailed to two restaurants where beer and other alcoholic beverages were purchased, according to FWC reports.

After attending a Halloween brunch at the home of the Matakaetis in the Sailfish Point community, Kyle Barrett and the others left around 4:35 p.m. on the Sailfish Point marina boat. They had brunch and spent time in the pool before deciding to go for a boat ride.

Ship deaths: Death of a woman and a 20-month-old girl after a boating accident in the Intracoastal

Boating under the influence: BUIs occur on the Treasure Coast, but it’s rare

They headed to the TideHouse Waterfront Restaurant near the Roosevelt Bridge for dinner, but it was too crowded to get a table, so they ordered drinks near the bar.

They left around 5:33 p.m.

They left and sailed to Sailor’s Return, and sat down around 6:30 p.m. The Barrett and Matakaetis families received food, two mojitos, and two vodka drinks. They left Sailor’s Return around 7:40 p.m.

They traveled east on the Saint Lucia River under the Roosevelt Bridge and under the Evans Crary Bridge, which connects Stuart and Sewall’s Point. Kyle Barrett said he took a “shortcut” to the Intracoastal Waterway.

Officials said a boating accident in the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway near Sandspirit Park and Sewall's Point sent two people to hospital on Sunday with serious injuries.

Kyle Barrett said, “the marker just jumped past them.”

An FWC report concluded that contributing factors to the crash included alcohol consumption, excessive speed and breach of boating rules.

Bauer told Barrett on Tuesday “the problem is obviously that you had responsibilities and you failed.”

“Your reckless behavior … caused the deaths of these two people,” Bauer told Barrett. “The condition is not wrong: the conditions, it was dark, it was foggy, it was shallow water, it was a narrow path.”

He acknowledged that the marker was not on, but found that Barrett should have known and expected it.

“Your responsibility was to your passengers on your ship that day and you made choices and a lack of focus to keep them safe,” Bauer said.

For the two counts of ship homicide, he ordered Barrett to serve four years in prison followed by six years probation with both sentences running concurrently.

“There is no good result,” Bauer said. “There are no winners.”

Melissa E. Holsman is a legal affairs reporter for TCPalm and Treasure Coast Newspapers, and is the editor and co-host of Uncertain Terms, a true crime podcast. Contact her at [email protected]

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