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Matiss Kivlenieks: NHL ice hockey player killed after wayward firework hits him in the chest at Fourth of July party | UK News

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A ice hockey player was killed when a wayward firework hit him in the chest at a Fourth of July party, say US police.

Matiss Kivlenieks, a goaltender for Columbus Blue Jackets, died of chest trauma on Sunday night in Novi – a suburb of northern Detroit.

The 24-year-old was in a hot tub and tried to get clear along with several others after the firework tilted and shot in their direction, said Lieutenant Jason Meier.

It was initially thought he had slipped and hit his head while running away, but preliminary results of a post-mortem on Monday said a chest injury was to blame.

“At the moment, we’re pretty certain this was a tragic accident,” said Lt Meier.

He said there was a “large gathering” at the property and that officers were trying to interview as many people as possible.

Kivlenieks, originally from Latvia, was taken to hospital by emergency teams shortly after 10pm on Sunday but was later pronounced dead.

Columbus Blue Jackets manager Jarmo Kekalainen tweeted: “Life is so precious and can be so fragile. Hug your loved ones today. RIP Matiss, you will be dearly missed.”

The club’s president of hockey operations John Davidson said it was a “devastating time”.

“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,” he said.

A moment of silence was held for him before the fourth game of the Stanley Cup final in Montreal.

Kivlenieks joined the Blue Jackets in May 2017 and had played eight games, but was viewed as an emerging talent and possible back-up goaltender next season.

He also played for his national team and the Latvian Hockey Federation called his death “a great loss not only for Latvian hockey but for the entire Latvian nation”.

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