Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks, 24, died in a tragic firework accident on Sunday (July 4) night. Kivlenieks was relaxing in a hot tub at a private party in Novi, Michigan when another group of people lit off a mortar-style firework.
The firework tilted slightly and shot towards the hot tub. Kivlenieks tried to get out of the way, but the firework struck him in the chest.
Parademics arrived and rushed Kivlenieks to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police initially believed he died from striking his head on the concrete as he fell out of the hot tub, but the preliminary autopsy report revealed he died due to chest trauma from the firework.
"At the moment, we're pretty certain this was a tragic accident," Lt. Jason Meier of the Novi Police Department said.
Kivlenieks played in two games for the Blue Jackets last season. He most recently played for Latvia at the IIHF World Championships. He posted a 1-2 record with a 2.18 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. His one victory was a shutout.
"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," Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson said in a statement. "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."