Matīss Kivlenieks, a goalie for the Columbus Blue Jackets, died Sunday night from chest trauma suffered from an errant “fireworks mortar blast,” according to an autopsy in Oakland County, Michigan.
Police say the fireworks tilted and shot towards people on Sunday night. Kivlenieks was in a hot tub with others and tried to evade the blast.
It took responders less than five minutes to arrive at the scene after receiving a 911 call. Kivlenieks was rushed to a local hospital, where he was soon pronounced dead.
Kivlenieks was just 24 years old.
Earlier this morning, though, the accident was thought to be an apparent head injury.
Before the autopsy revealed the chest trauma, Police said the NHL player was believed to have slipped and fallen on concrete while running from fireworks.
In a statement, the Blue Jackets called Kivlenieks death a “tragic accident.”
The Riga, Latvia native signed with Columbus in 2017. That year, he was also named the 2017 USHL Player of the Year.
Kivlenieks first game in the NHL was January 19, 2020, in Madison Square Garden. There, he stopped 31 of 32 shots and helped Columbus beat the Rangers 2 to 1. The young goaltender finished his NHL career with a 2-2-2 record, 3.09 goals-against average, and an .899 save percentage.
“We are shocked and saddened by the loss of Matīss 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. “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.”
“Life is so precious and can be so fragile,” Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekäläinen wrote in a tweet. “Hug your loved ones today. RIP Matiss, you will be dearly missed.”