NHL Star Matiss Kivlenieks Dead at 24 After "Fireworks Malfunction"

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks passed away at the age of 24 after suffering a head injury in a fireworks-related incident on July 4, authorities confirmed.

By Jess Cohen Jul 05, 2021 3:42 PMTags
Matiss Kivlenieks, Columbus Blue Jackets Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

The sports community is mourning the loss of a beloved athlete.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks died after suffering a fatal head injury during a tragic Fourth of July incident at a home in Novi, Michigan. He was 24.

"Novi Fire and Paramedics were dispatched at 10:13 p.m. to a private residence in the city of Novi. They found a subject unresponsive and immediately transferred him to Ascension Hospital in Novi where he was pronounced dead," lieutenant Jason Meier tells E! News. "The Novi Police Department is investigating and an autopsy is scheduled for today but all signs are that this was a tragic accident. Initial investigation is that there was a fireworks malfunction and that the deceased fell while escaping a hot tub."

As news of the NHL star's death emerged, many fans and fellow members of the sports community paid tribute to him. "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," John Davidson, Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations, said Monday, July 5. "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."

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Kivlenieks, who hailed from Riga, Latvia, signed with Columbus in May 2017.

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"The National Hockey League was saddened to learn of the sudden and tragic passing of goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks," commissioner Gary Bettman shared in a statement. "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."