Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Matiss Kivlenieks died Sunday evening at the age of 24 after being hit in the chest by fireworks during a celebration on July 4, according to local authorities.
Kivlenieks – who was born in Latvia – signed with the Blue Jackets in 2019… and played in 2 games for Columbus this season.
Matiss was at an Independence Day party at a private residence in Novi, Michigan when the fatal accident occurred.
Michigan officials say mortar-style fireworks were inadvertently fired at a group of people in a hot tub… hitting Kivlenieks.
Rescuers rushed to the scene around 10 p.m. and transported Matiss to hospital … but doctors were unable to save the lives of the guards.
The police are still investigating … but do not believe there was a criminal act.
“At the moment we are pretty sure it was a tragic accident,” a police spokesperson said.
Authorities originally believed Matiss had died of a slip and fall after the explosion … but on Monday morning, a Michigan medical examiner said that was not true – clarifying that the fire in artifice had caused the fatal injury.
The Blue Jackets released a statement on social media, writing … “It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that goalkeeper Matiss Kivlenieks passed away last night at the age of 24.”
“We are heartbroken. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers. Rest in peace, Kivi.”
The general manager of the teams, Jarmo Kekalainen, also weighed in on the horrific loss … “Life is so precious and can be so fragile. Hold your loved ones today. RIP Matiss, you will be dearly missed.”
Our sincere thanks to