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Ice hockey star Matiss Kivlenieks dies in hot tub fall after ‘fireworks malfunction’

Ice Hockey star Matiss Kivlenieks has died in a tragic incident as he tried to get out of a hot tub.

The Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender fell as he looked to address a “fireworks malfunction” at a Fourth of July party at a house in Michigan, according to local media.

The Detroit News said Kivlenieks was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

“From what we can tell, we’re treating this as an accidental fall,” said a police spokesman.

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Initial reports claimed he had died of a head injury, but investigator Tim Wood of the county coroner’s office reportedly told The Athletic his cause of death was recorded as “fireworks mortar blast, chest trauma” on the autopsy.

Novi Police Department Lieutenant Jason Meier has said, whilst an investigation remains active, it is being treated as “a tragic accident”.

The Columbus Blue Jackets star's death is being trated as a "tragic accident"
The Columbus Blue Jackets star’s death is being trated as a “tragic accident”

The 24-year-old signed with the Blue Jackets in May 2017 and spent most of his time with the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League.

With the Blue Jackets, he played in two games in 2020-21 and made six appearances, including four starts.

He also represented his country at this year’s World Championships.

“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,” said Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson.

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“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 organisation will not be forgotten.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman shared his condolences on behalf of the league, saying: “The National Hockey League was saddened to learn of the sudden and tragic passing of goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks.

“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.”

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