Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins said teammate Matiss Kivlenieks saved a lot of lives, including those of Merzlikins and his pregnant wife, when he was hit by a firework July 4. He was pronounced dead shortly after.
Merzlikins discussed the heroic actions of Kivlenieks in a eulogy delivered Thursday:
Here's Your Replay ⬇️ @TheReplayGuy
"He died as hero." - Elvis Merzlikins<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RememberingKivi?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RememberingKivi</a> <a href="https://t.co/OWpEQQGUZ2">https://t.co/OWpEQQGUZ2</a> <a href="https://t.co/tDBMbHFW0G">pic.twitter.com/tDBMbHFW0G</a>
Kivlenieks, 24, was killed on Independence Day when a "fireworks mortar tube accidentally angled toward a hot tub" where the Blue Jackets netminder was seated and one of the shots struck him in the chest, per Brian Hedger of the Columbus Dispatch.
Several other people were in the area of the blast, but no one else was injured.
The firework display took place at the Michigan home of Columbus goalie coach Manny Legace, who was hosting his daughter's wedding on the Fourth of July, per Hedger. Investigators' initial findings led them to believe it was a "tragic accident."
Novi Police Department Lt. Jason Meier said Monday they continue to believe Kivlenieks' death was accidental and confirmed they haven't recommended criminal charges, but they've sent the case to the Oakland County prosecutor's office for a final review, according to the Associated Press.
"Due to the high-profile nature, we wanted an extra set of eyes [on the case]," Meier said.
Kivlenieks signed with the Blue Jackets as an undrafted free agent in May 2017.
The Latvia native made eight appearances for Columbus and played 85 games for the Cleveland Monsters, the team's AHL affiliate, across four seasons.