Columbus Blue Jackets goalie dies after fireworks accident | KAMR
Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Matiss Kivlenieks died of chest trauma as a result of fireworks mortar fire in what authorities described on Monday as a tragic accident at a home in the Michigan July 4.
Police in Novi, Michigan 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 Latvian died of an apparent head injury in a fall, but an autopsy clarified the cause of death.
Firefighters and paramedics arrived at the house 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.
Before the autopsy, police said Kivlenieks allegedly slipped and hit his head against concrete while fleeing from faulty fireworks.
“At the moment we’re pretty sure it was a tragic accident,” Meier said.
Columbus CEO Jarmo Kekalainen tweeted: “Life is so precious and can be so fragile. Embrace your loved ones today. RIP Matiss, you will be sorely missed. 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. .
Kivlenieks’ death came on the eve of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final in Montreal. The Bell Center held a minute of silence for Kivlenieks ahead of the national anthems, and Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper made a remark about Kivlenieks following his team’s overtime loss to the Canadiens.
“I just want to offer our sincere condolences to the Kivlenieks family,” Cooper said. “It’s a terrible tragedy for anyone, any family to go through this. But someone in the NHL family, as close as we are all like the teams fighting out there, from all of the Lightning, our condolences. “
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 goalie 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 in Mexico in November, and Kivlenieks drove around 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.”
Meier said the autopsy results prompted officers to re-interview some witnesses. He said the police would continue to try to question as many people as possible who were there.
“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 the number of people present.
Meier did not provide the address of the property in Novi, a northern Detroit suburb. A police report had not yet been drawn up.
“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 won a damn good guardian and a better person… just, way too soon. “
Former Columbus defender David Savard learned of the crash 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 is extremely sad.
Associated Press sports writers Mitch Stacy and Jenna Fryer contributed.