The search for missing Edmonton Oilers prospect Kristians Pelss came to a tragic end on Saturday, when the 20-year-old was confirmed to have drowned.
The Edmonton Oilers released a statement Saturday confirming that Pelss, prospect from Latvia, was dead, ESPN reports. The 20-year-old went missing on Tuesday, and is believed to have drowned after falling from a bridge into a fast-moving river. Authorities have yet to confirm whether Pelss’ death was an accident or a suicide.
"This is the news we feared. Kristians was an outstanding man and we feel terrible he has left us at such a young age," said Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish, according to the team’s statement. "I can’t imagine how painful this situation is for the Pelss family.
On Thursday, the Oilers organization released a statement saying that it was aware of Pelss’ disappearance, but couldn’t confirm his status due to conflicting reports by local news outlets in Latvia, CBC reports. One such outlet, Apollo, reported that Pelss had died. Meanwhile, R-Sport, a Russian sports news agency, had reported that Pelss was missing, but not dead.
"There has been contradictory information reported, at times, and we are trying to confirm the facts," the Oilers said in a statement last week. "Once we are able to do that, we will be able to offer further comment. At this time, our thoughts and prayers are with the Pelss family."
Latvian rescue services spokeswoman Viktorija Sembele told reporters that her department had received a call Tuesday that an unidentified man had jumped from a bridge into the Daugava River, which is known for its strong current. Later, police spokesman Tom Sadovskis said that authorities had “suspicions” that the man on the bridge had been Pelss, but declined to elaborate on the situation.
Pelss had arrived home in Riga, the capital of Latvia, after spending the season with Edmonton’s minor league affiliate, the Oklahoma City Barons, ESPN reports. The Oilers had drafted him in the seventh round of the 2010 NHL Draft.