A medical examiner in Michigan says an autopsy has determined that Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks died of chest trauma from an errant fireworks mortar blast, and not a fall as authorities previously reported.
Police in Novi, Michigan, said the mortar-style firework tilted slightly and started to fire toward people nearby Sunday night. The 24-year-old Kivleniek was in a hot tub and tried to get clear with several other people, police Lt. Jason Meier said.
The fire department and EMTs got to the private home shortly after 10 p.m. and took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Meier said. The Oakland County Medical Examiner's office reported preliminary autopsy results Monday afternoon.
Prior to the autopsy, police said Kivlenieks was believed to have slipped and hit his head on concrete while running from a malfunctioning firework.
"At the moment, we're pretty certain this was a tragic accident," Meier said.
The Blue Jackets and Latvian Hockey Federation announced Kivlenieks' death, with the NHL club saying it resulted from an apparent head injury in a fall. The team's statement made no mention of fireworks.
A native of Riga, Latvia, Kivlenieks signed with the Blue Jackets as a free agent in May 2017 and played eight games for the club overall. He was seen as a possible No. 2 goaltender next season if Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins is traded.
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Associated Press writers Mitch Stacy and Kathleen Foody, and AP Auto Racing Writer Jenna Fryer contributed.