It seems like these types of stories always show up after the 4th of July weekend. Latvian goaltender Mattis Kivlenieks of the Columbus Blue Jackets passed away in a fireworks accident over the weekend. The first reports on the incident speculated that Mattis had slipped and hit his head. After his death, an autopsy revealed the truth about his demise. First responders were on hand rather quickly after they got the call. The impact that Mattis Kivlenieks had suffered was just too great to recover from.
How The Incident Went Down
As we mentioned before it was originally thought that Mattis Kivlenieks had slipped and hit his head while running away from malfunctioning fireworks. The police probably came to that assumption because that was what they were told by the folks that were with Kivlenieks at the time. When help first arrived the goaltender had already been moved to a private home. According to records first responders were on the scene 4 minutes and a half after they got a call to 9-1-1.
From the autopsy, the authorities were able to gather that the goaltender was actually struck by an errant firework in the chest. Kivlenieks was reportedly in a hot tub when he was hit in the chest with a mortar-style firework.
Reactions From The NHL Comunity
Naturally, messages from all around the NHL and the sports world have come pouring in after the incident. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman issued an official statement on behalf of the league in the aftermath of the tragedy. Bettman mentioned,
“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,” He added, “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.”
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.
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) July 5, 2021
His Teammates Reacted To The Tragedy
His teammates have also shared their reactions to the unfortunate event. Captain Nick Foligno sent a text message to ESPN reporter, Emily Kaplan that read,
“I know it’s cliché, but that’s exactly the kind of guy he was. Just enjoying his life as a 24-year-old living out his dream and you could tell he didn’t take one day for granted, which makes this tragedy even more hard to bear. Praying for his family and all of us who knew him.”
A Promising Young Career
At 24 the career of Mattis Kivlenieks was just getting started. He saw limited playing time last season with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Only starting 2 games for the squad throughout the year. He recently did see much more action with the Latvian national team in an international competition. The team was hoping that Kivlenieks could make the jump to a more important role in the years to come. Sadly this unfortunate event will prevent all of that from happening.