July 7, 2021
A 24-year-old player with the Columbus Blue Jackets of the National Hockey League died Sunday after being struck by fireworks at a party in Novi, Mich.
An autopsy showed that Matiss Kivlenieks, a goaltender for the Blue Jackets, died of chest trauma, said Lt. Jason Meier of the Novi Police Department, according to The New York Times.
Police said several people were sitting in a hot tub at the private party when an element from a fireworks mortar headed toward them. They tried to get out of the tub but Kivlenieks was struck in the chest, police said.
An ambulance took Kivlenieks to Ascension Providence Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the Times said. Nobody else was hurt.
Police said the incident is being investigated as an accident, the Times said, noting that authorities originally thought Kivlenieks died from a fall while trying to avoid the fireworks. The police said there’s no indication the fireworks were illegal.
Kivlenieks was a native of Riga, Latvia. He signed with the Blue Jackets in 2017, made his NHL debut in 2020, and had played in eight games. He played for Latvia in the 2021 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in June.
“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,” John Davidson, the president of hockey operations with the Blue Jackets, said in a statement on Monday.