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Fireworks blamed in death of ice hockey star Matiss Kivlenieks as new details emerge about tragic hot tub incident

Fireworks blamed in death of ice hockey star Matiss Kivlenieks as new details emerge about tragic hot tub incident
Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Matiss Kivlenieks died from injuries caused by a fireworks mortar blast during 4th of July celebrations, rather than head injuries sustained during a fall, as was initially reported.

News broke early Monday that Latvian NHL star Kivlenieks had died in a tragic accident in Michigan on Sunday.

Initial reports from the authorities stated that the 24-year-old had died of a head injury after slipping while attempting to scramble from a hot tub to escape an errant firework.

However, following an initial autopsy, officials have since clarified that it was a mortar blast from the firework itself which is believed to have caused the fatal injuries.

"There was some minor injury to his exterior, which would lead us to believe that some portion of the firework made contact with him, but we're not really sure if it was a direct hit or whether the percussion from the explosion caused his injuries," said Lt. Jason Meier of the Novi Police Department in Michigan. 

The fire department responded to a call to a private residence at 10.13pm local time on Sunday, and said that Kivlenieks was rushed to a nearby medical facility where he was pronounced dead.

According to police, revelers panicked when a "mortar-style" firework became tilted and engulfed in flames.

Kivlenieks appeared in two games last season for the Blue Jackets and had been expected to compete for further playing time in the upcoming seasons. He had previously starred for Latvia in the World Championships, where he turned in a crucial performance in a shut-out win against the world champion Canadian team in their opening game.

"One thing I loved and appreciated about him was he had a great smile and always was in a good mood," ex-Blue Jackets skipper Nick Foligno said to ESPN.

"I know it's cliche, 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. Hard day for a lot of people in that organization."

Also on rt.com ‘Way too young’: Tragedy hits ice hockey as Latvian NHL star Matiss Kivlenieks dies aged 24 after ‘suffering head injury in fall’

"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," added NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

"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."

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