Medical Examiner Says Columbus Blue Jackets Goalie Died From A Fireworks Mortar Blast

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More information has since been revealed in the tragic death of Matiss Kivlenieks.

A medical examiner in Michigan says an autopsy has determined that Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender died of chest trauma from an errant fireworks mortar blast, and not a fall as authorities previously reported.

Police added that the mortar-style firework tilted slightly and started to fire toward people. The 24-year-old Kivleniek was in a hot tub and tried to get clear with several other people, police Lt. Jason Meier said. Prior to the autopsy, police said Kivlenieks was believed to have slipped and hit his head on concrete while running from a malfunctioning firework.

“At the moment, we’re pretty certain this was a tragic accident,” Meier said.

Blue Jackets’ President of Hockey Operations John Davidson said: “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. 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.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman shared his condolences.

“On behalf of the NHL family, we extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and teammates in both the Blue Jackets organization and his native country of Latvia. His love for life and passion for the game will be deeply missed by all those who have been fortunate to have him as a teammate and a friend.”

From 2017-21, the goaltender played for the Blue Jackets’ American Hockey League affiliate, where he had a 33-35-9 record with a 3.31 GAA and three shutouts in 85 career games.