COLUMBUS – Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks died Sunday night as the result of an accident involving fireworks in Michigan, police said.
The Oakland County medical examiner’s office said Monday that an autopsy showed Kivlenieks, 24, died from “fireworks mortar, chest trauma” following a fireworks accident in Novi.
Initial reports from Novi police, based off eyewitness accounts, said Kivlenieks sustained a head injury in a fall while trying to flee a hot tub during a fireworks malfunction. According to Novi Police Lt. Jason Meier, who is investigating the case, the autopsy showed no signs of head trauma or external injuries to his chest.
The report did show that Kivlenieks had extensive internal injuries.
“There wasn’t a lot of external damage,” Meier said. “He had massive internal damage, so we’re working under the theory that it was the concussive blast of the firework.”
Meier said the accident occurred when a mortar tube accidentally tilted toward the hot tub and fired. He said “all indications” are the person operating the fireworks had not been drinking alcohol.
“One fired over their head and they began to flee the hot tub, and then the second one came in and exploded in the vicinity of Mr. Kivlenieks,” Meier said.
Police said nobody else was injured in the incident.
The Blue Jackets released a statement Monday confirming Kivlenieks’ death.
“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 the 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.”
Meier said police were alerted at 10:15 p.m., and that emergency responders arrived 4 minutes, 38 seconds later.
Kivlenieks was transported to Ascension Providence Hospital in Novi, where he was pronounced dead. Meier said there was a large gathering at the home but declined to release the address or confirm that it happened at a residence owned by Blue Jackets goaltending coach Manny Legace, who lives in Novi in the offseason.