COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Blue Jackets announced that goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks died Sunday night at the age of 24 during a fireworks-related incident at a home in Novi, Michigan, the team said.
Lt. Jason Meier of the Novi Police Department in Michigan said a 911 call came in at around 10:13 p.m. Sunday.
There was a fireworks malfunction at a home where Kivlenieks was at, police said. Kivlenieks was trying to get out of a hot tub when he slipped and fell, Meier confirmed to News 5.
Fire and paramedics arrived at the home in 4 minutes and 38 seconds, but he died from his injuries a short time later.
Police originally thought Kivlenieks died from hitting his head on the ground when he slipped from the hot tub, but an autopsy revealed Kivlenieks 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 his 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.
A Riga, Lativa native, Kivlenieks signed with the Blue Jackets as a free agent in May 2017, going 2-2-2- with a 3.09 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in his eight career games with Columbus.
Kivlenieks played most of his games with the Cleveland Monsters, the Blue Jackets' affiliate, notching a 33-35-9 record with a 3.31 GAA, .896 SV% and three shutouts in his 85 games with the Monsters.
"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."
The Cleveland Monsters released the following statement:
"The Cleveland Monsters are shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of Matiss Kivlenieks and send our heartfelt condolences to the Kivlenieks family and to all of his teammates and friends at this time.
We are devastated by the loss of Matiss Kivlenieks, and send our condolences to his family, teammates, and friends at this time,” said Monsters General Manager Chris Clark. “Matiss approached the game and every day with joy and positivity and his presence will be missed by all. The impact Matiss made on the Cleveland Monsters organization and each of us individually will not be forgotten.”
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