A woman told a 911 operator that Columbus Blue Jackets goalkeeper Matiss Kivlenieks was “bracing himself for seizures” after an errant July 4 fireworks mortar blast struck him in the chest in a Michigan home where he was training.
The call was one of three released Tuesday in connection with Kivlenieks’ death, which police are investigating as an accident.
Another woman who called said, “Hey, we have someone who was hit by a firework. Can you come here right away? She’s breathing. We have a nurse here. She’s breathing, but she’s not very well.”
Kivlenieks, 24 from Latvia, was attacked around 10 p.m. Sunday at a home in Novi, about 45 miles northwest of Detroit. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
A large group of people were gathered at the house, about 28 miles northwest of Detroit, and “the fireworks hadn’t been going on for long” when Kivlenieks was attacked, Lt. Jason Meier said Tuesday.
Police have said that the fireworks tilted slightly and began firing at nearby people. Kivlenieks was in a hot tub and tried to escape with other people when he was hit.
The nine-shot fireworks being used were legal in Michigan and the person operating them at the time Kivlenieks was attacked was complying with state laws, Meier said.
“We understand he was training with the owner over the summer and he was staying there,” said Meier, who declined to reveal the owner’s name or identify the person operating the fireworks.
“When we finish, we will review with the prosecution to cover all the bases,” he added.
Fireworks-related deaths and injuries are on the rise, according to a report published 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. fireworks in 2020 compared to around 10,000 in 2019.
In Michigan, consumer fireworks must meet CPSC standards. Licensed facilities can only sell fireworks to people over the age of 18. Low-impact fireworks such as sparklers, toy snakes, snaps, and poppers are also legal for sale and use.
State law stipulates that consumer-grade fireworks can only be lit from personal property. It is also illegal to discharge fireworks while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.