(NEW YORK) — A mishap involving fireworks on the Fourth of July took the life of Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Matiss Kivlenieks, investigators said.
First responders in Oakland County, Michigan, rushed to the scene of the incident Sunday night where they found the 24-year-old injured, the Blue Jackets said in a statement. Kivlenieks succumbed to his injuries soon after help arrived, the team said.
Although an early statement from the Blue Jackets said initial information showed Kivlenieks suffered a head injury, a representative from the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office told ABC News that Kivlenieks’ cause of death was “chest trauma” from a fireworks mortar blast. The manner of death was ruled accidental, according to the medical examiner.
The investigation is ongoing, according to the police.
The Latvia native signed with the team in May 2017. Kivlenieks made his NHL debut at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 19, 2020, stopping 31 of 32 shots in a victory against the New York Rangers.
The Blue Jackets left a couple of hockey sticks outside the Nationwide Arena in Columbus on Monday afternoon as a tribute to Kivlenieks.
His teammates shared their condolences on social media throughout the day.
Blue Jackets center Nathan Gerbe tweeted a photo of his kids playing on the ice with Kivlenieks.
“Words are hard to find right now, but the day we put the same jersey on meant that we would be family forever. When my kids play Kivi ‘the kid’ in goal it will have a greater meaning!!” Gerbe wrote.
John Davidson, the Blue Jackets’ president of hockey operations, gave his condolences to Kivlenieks’ family.
“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,” Davidson said in a statement.
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