Police do not believe that the individual who set off the firework was drunk at the time of the incident
Matiss Kivlenieks, 24, died while attending a party at the home of the team’s goaltending coach, Manny Legace. Earlier in the day, Mr Legace’s daughter, Sabrina, was married at the home.
The young couple’s wedding website described the party as a “night of relaxation and uninhibited revelry”.
The NHL player was lounging in a hot tub when a mortar-style firework tipped over and fired directly at him.
According to Police Lt. Jason Meier, the goalie and several others in the hot tub attempted to dodge the incoming firework.
Initially, investigators believed that while fleeing the hot tub, Mr Kivlenieks slipped and fell, and hit his head on concrete where he landed.
However, the medical examiner determined following an autopsy that Mr Kivlenieks was killed by severe chest trauma resulting from a firework.
Police told the Detroit News that the individual who set off the fireworks was not under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident.
Authorities believe Mr Kivlenieks was about 10 feet away from the firework when he was hit. The concussive power of the blast caused injuries to his heart and lungs, eventually killing him.
One of Mr Kivlenieks’ teammates, a fellow Latvian named Elvis Merzlikins, shared a photo of the two of them sitting together at a party in Hawaiian shirts and posted a captioning remembering their final moments.
“I really love you, I’ll miss you, we had our last basketball game in the pool and we enjoyed before you left me right after,” Mr Merzlikins wrote. “We love you and fly high baby, fly high! You saved your last puck! You will be our guardian angel.”
Another one of Mr Kivlenieks’ teammates reportedly tried to enter the ambulance with him to keep him company on the way to the hospital, but the goalie reportedly told him not to come to spare him the experience of watching him die.
“[Mr Kivlenieks] did not want him to have to see that,” the player’s agent, Jay Grossman, told The Daily Mail.
The Blue Jackets player was a native of Riga, Latvia, and joined the team in 2017.