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Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks was about to “go into convulsions” after a freak fireworks accident at a Michigan home — where three women begged cops to respond immediately, frantic 911 calls show.
Three 911 calls released Tuesday by the Novi Police Department show the rapidly increasing concern at the home of Blue Jackets goaltending coach Manny Legace, where Kivlenieks attended a large gathering Sunday, the Detroit News reported.
The first female caller requested help for a “fireworks misfire” before telling a dispatcher that Kivlenieks, 24, was conscious and breathing following the accident.
A second 911 call made 41 seconds later described a more dire scene, according to the 22-second audio clip.
“Hey, we have someone who’s hit by a firework,” the woman told a dispatcher. “Can you come here immediately?”
The woman said Kivlenieks was breathing and noted that a nurse was also at the party, but added the goaltender was not “doing very good,” according to the audio.
“Ma’am, they’re on the way, just stay there,” the dispatcher replied.
Less than a minute later, a third caller said Kivlenieks was “getting ready to go into convulsions” after being struck by fireworks.
“They’re already on the way to help you, ma’am, just stay there,” a dispatcher insisted.
Kivlenieks, a native of Lativa who signed with the Blue Jackets in 2017, was later pronounced dead at a hospital in Novi. A medical examiner said Tuesday that he died after a shell from high-powered fireworks hit the left side of his chest, causing “devastating” injuries to his heart and lungs.
“He sustained chest trauma as a result of the impact of this projectile,” Oakland County medical examiner Dr. Ljubisa Dragovic told the Detroit News.
Kivleniek’s official cause of death was trauma to the chest, Dragovic said.
“I think the message out there should be that any handling of fireworks, being and containing explosives as they do, is potentially dangerous,” Dragovic said.
There was no indication of head trauma, Dragovic said Tuesday. Kivlenieks was in a hot tub in Legace’s backyard when the accident happened, the newspaper reported.
The goaltender reportedly tried to get out of the hot tub, but fell, leading investigators to initially suspect he sustained a head injury.
No other injuries were reported at the party, described by Novi police as a “large gathering” at Legace’s home.
The wedding of Legace’s daughter, Sabrina, to real estate agent Nick Howell was held at the residence earlier in the day, the Daily Mail reported.
An ensuing “night of relaxation and uninhibited revelry” was held at the home, with guests clad in Hawaiian-style dress, according to the report, which cited the couple’s wedding website.
Novi police Lt. Jason Meier said Kivelenieks was believed to be about 10 feet from the fireworks when he was struck but added the detail remains “speculation,” the Detroit News reported.
The person who lit the fireworks had not consumed alcohol and investigators are currently not considering charges, Meier said.
The nine-shot firework that tilted slightly before firing was legal in Michigan and was being operated in compliance with state laws, Meier told the Associated Press.
“We understand [Kivlenieks] was training with the homeowner for the summer and was staying there,” Meier said. “When we’re done, we’ll review with the prosecutor’s office to cover all the bases.”
Eighteen fireworks-related deaths across the US were reported in 2020, the Detroit News reported. Some 15,600 people were also treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, up from about 10,000 in 2019.
With Post wires
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