Police in Novi, Michigan, say 24-year-old Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks died Sunday following an accident that involved fireworks.
Novi Lt. Jason Meier tells The Associated Press that a mortar-style firework tilted slightly and started to fire toward people nearby. Meier says Kivlenieks was in a hot tub and fled along with several other people, but he slipped and hit his head on concrete.
Meier said Kivlenieks was pronounced dead after first responders reached the scene.
An autopsy performed on Kivlenieks’ body found he died from chest trauma from a fireworks mortar blast, according to the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office. Officials say the firework hitting him led to the man’s death, not him slipping and hitting his head on the concrete.
The Blue Jackets called it a “tragic accident" in a statement that made no mention of fireworks.
"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," said Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson. "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."
Kivlenieks was a candidate to be the Columbus Blue Jackets’ future goaltender. He represented Latvia at this spring's hockey world championship.
Editor's note: Novi police originally said his cause of death was a "percussive injury."