Blue Jackets goalie Matiss Kivlenieks dies after accident involving fireworks

Matiss Kivlenieks
Posted at 11:22 AM, Jul 05, 2021

Police in Novi, Michigan, say 24-year-old Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks died Sunday following an accident that involved fireworks.

Novi Lt. Jason Meier tells The Associated Press that a mortar-style firework tilted slightly and started to fire toward people nearby. Meier says Kivlenieks was in a hot tub and fled along with several other people, but he slipped and hit his head on concrete.

Meier said Kivlenieks was pronounced dead after first responders reached the scene.

An autopsy performed on Kivlenieks’ body found he died from a percussive injury which caused damage to his organs, police tell Detroit's WXYZ. Officers say that means it was the shock of the firework explosion that led to the man’s death, not him slipping and hitting his head on the concrete.

Police say Kivlenieks suffered no head trauma and no fragments from the firework were found in his system during the autopsy.

The Blue Jackets called it a “tragic accident" in a statement that made no mention of fireworks.

"We are shocked and saddened by the loss of Matiss Kivlenieks, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his mother, Astrida, his family and friends during this devastating time," said Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson. "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 was a candidate to be the Columbus Blue Jackets’ future goaltender. He represented Latvia at this spring's hockey world championship.