Autopsy: Columbus goalkeeper Matiss Kivlenieks died of chest trauma following fireworks

Columbus Blue Jackets goalkeeper Matiss Kivlenieks died of chest trauma as a result of fireworks mortar fire in what authorities described on Monday as a tragic accident on July 4 .

Police in Novi, Mich., Said the fireworks had tilted slightly and started shooting at people nearby on Sunday evening. Kivlenieks, 24, was in a hot tub and tried to extricate himself with several other people, Police Lt. Jason Meier said. Authorities earlier said the Lativan died of an apparent head injury in a fall, but an autopsy clarified the cause of death.

Firefighters and paramedics attended the private home shortly after 10 p.m. and took Kivlenieks to hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Meier said. The Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office released the preliminary autopsy results on Monday afternoon.

Prior to the autopsy, police said Kivlenieks allegedly slipped and hit his head against concrete while fleeing faulty fireworks.

“At the moment we’re pretty sure it was a tragic accident,” Meier said.

The Blue Jackets and the Latvian Hockey Federation have announced Kivlenieks’ death, with the NHL club initially saying it was the result of an apparent head injury during a fall. The team’s statement made no mention of fireworks.

Columbus CEO Jarmo Kekalainen tweeted: “Life is so precious and can be so fragile. Hold your loved ones today. RIP Matiss, we will miss you dearly.” Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson called it a “devastating time” for the team.

“Kivi was an exceptional young man who greeted everyone every day with a smile and the impact he had during his four years with our organization will not be forgotten,” he said. .

“What a tragic loss for all of us who knew him and I think and pray for his family,” tweeted former Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno. “Heaven has gained a damn good keeper and a better person It’s just, way too soon.”

Former Columbus defender David Savard learned about it from Foligno.

“It was a rude awakening this morning,” Savard said in French. “He was a good boy with a lot of talent who was going to be part of the team next year or in the future. It’s extremely sad.”

Kivlenieks’ death came on the eve of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final in Montreal, where the Tampa Bay Lightning had the chance to win the championship against the Canadiens on Monday night.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said “Kivlenieks’ love for life and passion for the game will be deeply missed by all who were fortunate enough to have him as a teammate and friend.”

The Latvian Hockey Federation called the death of Kivlenieks “a great loss not only for Latvian hockey, but for the whole Latvian nation”.

Kivlenieks recently represented Latvia this spring at the World Hockey Championship in which he played four games. He played two games for the Blue Jackets and eight for the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League last season.

Hailing from Riga, Latvia, Kivlenieks signed with the Blue Jackets as a free agent in May 2017 and played eight games for the club in total. He has been considered a possible No.2 goalkeeper next season if Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins are traded.

Kivlenieks was at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington last Tuesday as a guest of IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi.

Rossi announced that day that he would be racing the Baja 1000 in Mexico in November, and Kivlenieks toured Mid-Ohio in a Honda Ridgeline to help promote both Rossi and Sunday’s IndyCar race.

“It hits hard,” Rossi tweeted. “Prayer to the family and to the team.”

How Sunday night’s events unfolded was brought to light on Monday, as Meier said the autopsy results prompted officers to re-interview some witnesses. He said police would continue to try to question as many people as possible who were present at the time.

“We’re starting to get a pretty good picture of what happened,” he said.

Meier said police who responded to emergency calls said there was a “large rally” at the house but did not have an estimate of how many were present or how many people were there. that the police wanted to talk to.

Meier did not provide the address of the property in Novi, a northern Detroit suburb. A police report has not yet been completed.


Associated Press sports writers Mitch Stacy and Jenna Fryer contributed.

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