A woman told a 911 dispatcher that Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks was “getting ready to go into convulsions” after he was struck in the chest by an errant Fourth of July fireworks mortar blast at a Michigan home.
The call was one of three released Tuesday in connection with Kivlenieks’ death, which police are investigating as an accident.
Another female caller said: “Hey, we have someone who was hit by a fireworks. Can you come here immediately? He’s breathing. We have a nurse here. He’s breathing, but he’s not doing very good.”
Kivlenieks, 24 of Latvia, was struck about 10 p.m. Sunday at a home in Novi, about 28 miles northwest of Detroit. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
A large group of people was gathered at the home, about 28 miles northwest of Detroit, and “the fireworks had not been going on for very long” when Kivlenieks was struck, Lt. Jason Meier said Tuesday.
Police have said the firework tilted slightly and started to fire toward people nearby. Kivlenieks was in a hot tub and tried to get clear with several other people when he was struck.
The nine-shot firework being used was legal in Michigan and the person operating it at the time Kivlenieks was struck was in compliance with state laws, Meier said.
“We understand he was training with the homeowner for the summer and was staying there,” said Meier, who declined to release the name of the homeowner or identify the person operating the fireworks.
“When we’re done, we’ll review with the prosecutor’s office to cover all the bases,” he added.
Fireworks-related death and injuries are on a rise, according to a report released in June by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. It found 15,600 people were treated in hospital emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries in 2020 compared to about 10,000 in 2019.
In its 2020 Fireworks Annual Report, the agency said its staff received reports of 18 non-occupational deaths last year in the United States. Of that number, 12 involved the misuse of fireworks. Consumer Product Safety Commission staff also has reports of 136 fireworks-related deaths between 2005–2020.
In Michigan, consumer fireworks must meet CPSC standards. Licensed facilities only can sell fireworks to people 18 and older. Low impact fireworks like sparklers, snaps, and poppers are also legal for sale and use.
State law stipulates that consumer-grade fireworks only can be ignited from personal property. It’s also illegal to discharge fireworks when intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
By Corey Williams