Blue Jackets goalie Matiss Kivlenieks was at a Michigan home owned by the team’s goaltending coach Manny Legace when he died in a fireworks accident on July 4, according to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan. Kivlenieks was hit in the chest by a fireworks mortar blast and was pronounced dead by the time he arrived at a nearby hospital.
The Associated Press reported that there were three 911 calls made relating to the accident involving Kivlenieks.
“Hey, we have someone who was hit by a fireworks,” a female caller told a 911 dispatcher after Kivlenieks was hit. “Can you come here immediately? He’s breathing. We have a nurse here. He’s breathing, but he’s not doing very good.”
A separate 911 caller said that Kivlenieks was “getting ready to go into convulsions” following the accident.
It was initially reported on Monday that Kivlenieks suffered an apparent fatal head injury when he fell out of a hot tub during the incident, but an autopsy later showed that chest trauma was the cause of death.
Michigan police stated that the mortar was lit properly and began firing at people, including Kivlenieks, who was in the hot tub. Kivlenieks was attempting to shield himself from the mortar when he was struck.
Kivlenieks and fellow Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzļikins had traveled to Michigan to celebrate the Fourth of July with Legace, according to ESPN. In addition, they were celebrating the wedding of Legace’s daughter over the weekend.
Kivlenieks signed with the Blue Jackets in May 2017 as a free agent. He put together 2-2-2 and recorded a 3.09 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in eight games with the team. Legace has been the Blue Jackets goaltending coach since 2018 following his retirement from an 11-year NHL career.