Hockey star Matiss Kivlenieks, 24, dead after being ‘pursued by fireworks’ projectiles during bizarre accident

A hockey goalkeeper, Matiss Kivlenieks who plays for Columbus Blue Jackets died on Sunday following a Fourth of July bizarre accident in Michigan, according to local police.

Lt. Jason Meier of the Novi Police Department said Kivlenieks was in a hot tub when a mortar-style firework tilted slightly and started to go off toward people nearby.

Kivlenieks and several others were ‘pursued by the fireworks.’

As he and other people attempted to run away, the 24-year-old slipped and fell, and suffered a head injury.

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

Emergency services arrived at the scene at 10:13 p.m. local time on Sunday, four minutes late. They rushed Kivlenieks to a local hospital, but he was pronounced dead shortly after.

An autopsy carried out on Monday showed he died from the blast to his heart rather than the fall as was first thought.

Kivlenieks’ death was announced by the Blue Jackets and Latvian Hockey Federation early Monday July 5.

“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 a 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.”

During the world hockey championship this spring, Kivlenieks played four games for Latvia.

A native of Latvia, Kivlenieks signed with the Blue Jackets as a free agent in May 2017 and played eight teams for the club.

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