July 4 is a day of celebration in America, but it’s also a dangerous one that can lead to tragedy. Manmade fires spike each Independence Day, as do fireworks injuries and the sports world learned Monday of a terrible tragedy involving fireworks and Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks.
It’s with a very heavy heart that we share the news that goaltender 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.https://t.co/o2EDRgxQ5A pic.twitter.com/FCBr0ZaH25
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) July 5, 2021
Reports surfaced on Monday morning that Kivlenieks had died as the result of a fireworks accident, with initial reports indicating that he suffered head trauma attempting to get out of the way of errant fireworks. The news about the 24-year-old rookie, who played just two games for Columbus this season, rocked the hockey world ahead of what may be the decisive game in the Stanley Cup Final.
Reports after an autopsy, however, made the news more heartbreaking. According to the Associated Press, Kivlenieks died of chest trauma in the accident.
A medical examiner in Michigan says an autopsy has determined that Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks died of chest trauma from an errant fireworks mortar blast, and not a fall as authorities previously reported.
Police in Novi, Michigan, said the mortar-style firework tilted slightly and started to fire toward people nearby Sunday night. The 24-year-old Kivleniek was in a hot tub and tried to get clear with several other people, police Lt. Jason Meier said.
It’s a tragic accident for sure, and a reminder of how moments of celebration can go wrong without proper care. The hockey world, both in Columbus and in his native Latvia, struggled on Monday to come to grips with losing someone so young, so suddenly.