NHL Goalie Killed In Tragic Fireworks Accident
COLUMBUS, OH - MAY 07: Matiss Kivlenieks #80 of the Columbus Blue Jackets makes a save during the first period of the game against the Detroit Red Wings at Nationwide Arena on May 7, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio.
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Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks died from injuries sustained from a fireworks accident on Sunday night, according to a local medical examiner’s office.

Novi Police Lt. Jason Meier said that Kivlenieks, 24, was killed by the percussive blast from a firework mortar after a firework display tipped over and fired at him while he was in a hot tub with other people.

The Detroit Free Press reported:

Paramedics were sent to the home at 10:13 p.m. and upon arrival, found Kivlenieks unresponsive. He was transported to Ascension Providence Hospital in Novi where he was pronounced dead, Meier said. An initial investigation found that Kivlenieks fled the hot tub, slipped, fell and struck his head. But the autopsy did not reveal any trauma to Kivlenieks’ head, Meier said.

“There wasn’t a lot of external damage,” Meier said. “He had massive internal damage, so we’re working under the theory that it was the concussive blast of the firework.”

Meier said that people began running from the hot tub after the first shot fired in their direction and that the shot second detonated in the vicinity of Kivlenieks. Meier said that “all indications” were that the person who was operating the fireworks was not under the influence of alcohol.

“We are still looking at this as a tragic accident,” Meier said. “Based on the new information, we definitely want to reinterview people and make sure that we have an accurate depiction of what happened.”

“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.”

In a statement that called the incident a “tragic accident,” the Columbus Blue Jackets highlighted Kivlenieks’s career achievements:

Kivlenieks, who signed with Columbus as a free agent in May 2017, went 2-2-2 with a 3.09 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in eight career games with the club. He made his NHL debut at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 19, 2020, stopping 31-of-32 shots to beat the New York Rangers, 2-1. He posted a 33-35-9 mark, 3.31 GAA, .896 SV% and three shutouts in 85 career games with the Cleveland Monsters, the Blue Jackets’ American Hockey League affiliate from 2017-21. He represented Latvia at several international tournaments including the 2021 IIHF World Championships this spring, where he went 1-2 with a 2.18 GAA, .922 SV% and one shutout in four games.

“The National Hockey League was saddened to learn of the sudden and tragic passing of goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. “On behalf of the NHL family, we extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and teammates in both the Blue Jackets organization and his native country of Latvia. His love for life and passion for the game will be deeply missed by all those who have been fortunate to have him as a teammate and a friend.”

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