‘He can be a light in our lives’: Uplifting vigil for tragic drowning victim

Dusk fell slowly around home plate on the Satellite High School baseball field at last Saturday’s celebration of life vigil for 21-year-old Matthew Anthony Robineau of Indian Harbour Beach. About 250 friends and family – most holding small candles – gathered around the baselines, waiting for the wind to subside for their final tribute to a helpful young man gone too soon.

A photo of Matthew, everybody’s favorite teammate, as a Satellite Beach High pitcher in 2016 was placed on the pitcher’s mound that also sported a large No. 1 in chalk. That was Matthew’s number, not as a tribute to himself, but because it had been his older brother’s number at SHS. It was an important Robineau family tradition he proudly carried forward, explained Jason Arnold, Matthew’s coach for four years.

Originally, Arnold had inadvertently given Matthew the No. 2 jersey, but then the coach remembered Matthew grumbling a bit, something out of character for the likeable player.

Once Arnold found out why, the numbers were switched. “He wanted to carry on that legacy and he sure did,’’ Arnold said.

Arnold started out the solemn event with an opening prayer for those left behind after the tragic Feb. 10 drowning near Melbourne Causeway that took the affable and gregarious young man described as having a strong work ethic and an ever-present and infectious smile. “We can’t quite understand why something like this would happen to a young man such as Matthew, but please be with his family, and the entire Satellite Beach family, as we mourn the loss of a fantastic young man. Help everybody get through this together and know that all thing are done in Your will (even if) we don’t understand the reason why,’’ Arnold said.

Coach Arnold concluded by speaking to the younger members in the audience, especially the boys. “Every single day and every decision you make, your life is on the line. You have to remember that. Lastly, tell people you love them every single day,” he said. “You have no idea how much that might mean to somebody. If it’s on your mind or in your heart, tell them.”

Up next was older brother and mentor Andrew Robineau, urging the audience to speak to Matthew in their minds, certain as he was present in spirit at the gathering – fully present, just as he lived each moment of his life.

He said the jersey No. 1 also perfectly illustrates the Robineau family motto, a common theme throughout the comments: “Others above myself.”

His parents described how Matthew, who worked diligently at a local pizzeria, had a dream of one day opening his own restaurant. They said he would try out different recipes for his family, each time carefully following the directions and being excited about the outcome.

The baseball field, he said, was the perfect spot for the gathering of loved, hallowed ground normally reserved for players only. As the remembrances continued, and the afternoon sky just barely began to give way to evening, the group came forward, huddled against the breeze as they lit the small candles from torches placed near home plate. “This was his safe place, this is our safe place for everybody here. Just talk to him and be present because he was present for us every single day. That’s something we can all share. He can be a light in our lives,’’ Andrew Robineau said.

Matthew was last seen around 1 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, walking along the railroad tracks in downtown Melbourne. Police received a call from Matthew’s father, Dan Robineau, on Sunday at 2:13 a.m. in the area of the Melbourne Causeway near Geiger Point where Matthew’s shirt, cellphone and wallet were found. His body was found near the causeway the following day.

The preliminary results of Matthew Robineau’s autopsy report show that the 21-year-old drowned, with no signs of trauma or criminal activity, according to the Brevard County Medical Examiner’s office. The investigation is still ongoing pending a toxicology report and the final medical examiner’s report.

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