Matiss Kivlenieks, goaltender for the NHL‘s Columbus Blue Jackets, died on Sunday as a result of an errant fireworks blast while celebrating the Fourth of July at a home in Novi, Michigan, according to Associated Press.
Novi police told AP that nearby fireworks malfunctioned and began firing in the direction of people. Police Lt. Jason Meier said 24-year-old Kivlenieks, originally from Riga, Latvia, was in a hot tub and tried to find safety with several other people when he was injured. Kivlenieks was transported to the hospital shortly after 10 p.m. EDT, where he was pronounced dead.
An initial autopsy conducted by the Oakland County medical examiner’s office on Monday indicated that Kivlenieks died from “fireworks mortar, chest trauma,” The Columbus Dispatch reported. It added that the autopsy showed no signs of head trauma or external injuries to his chest, but did show extensive internal injuries.
“At the moment, we’re pretty certain this was a tragic accident,” Meier said.
Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson said in a statement that the team is “shocked and saddened by the loss.”
“Kivi was an outstanding young man who greeted every day and everyone with a smile and the impact he had during his four years with our organization will not be forgotten.”
Kivlenieks signed with the team as a free agent in May 2017 and had a .899 save percentage in eight career games with the club. He also represented Latvia at several international tournaments, including the 2021 IIHF World Championships.
And thank you to everyone in the hockey world for your support today. We love you, Kivi. pic.twitter.com/LjYiMUBjJH
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) July 6, 2021
— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) July 5, 2021