Coroner has not determined if crash victim is Michael Hastings

The Los Angeles county coroner’s office had yet to determine Tuesday night whether a body recovered from a fiery car crash was that of award-winning journalist Michael Hastings.

The body was badly charred and identified only as “John Doe 117,” law enforcement authorities told The Times.

Coroner’s officials were attempting to match dental records to help make a positive identification, according to authorities.

The death of the 33-year-old Hastings was announced by his employer, BuzzFeed, which said he died in a Los Angeles car accident.

In a statement released Tuesday, BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith said he and his team were “shocked and devastated by the news” that Hastings had died.


The statement said only that the crash was in Los Angeles but did not specify where.

There was only one fatal car crash reported in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning, involving a vehicle that smashed into a tree and burst into flames in the 600 block of North Highland Avenue in Hancock Park, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

The collision was so violent that the car’s engine was strewn onto a yard about 100 feet from the crash site, a photo taken by The Time showed.

Hastings was best known for his 2010 Rolling Stone profile that led to the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Hastings was a contributing editor to the magazine.

At the time of the article, McChrystal commanded all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. In the piece, he voiced open contempt for President Obama and administration policies.

After it was published, McChrystal was summoned to the White House to meet with the president. McChrystal resigned afterward.

The article won the 2010 George Polk award for magazine reporting.

Hastings started writing for BuzzFeed and joined the organization’s Los Angeles bureau after it opened in October.

“Michael Hastings will bring his hard-hitting reporting on national security and politics to the BuzzFeed Los Angeles Bureau while contributing to entertainment coverage as a Correspondent-at-Large,” BuzzFeed said at the time.

Hastings covered wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and also worked for GQ and Newsweek. He was the author of a book about his former fiancee, who was killed in Iraq in 2007.

“Michael was a great, fearless journalist with an incredible instinct for the story and a gift for finding ways to make his readers care about anything he covered, from wars to politicians,” Smith said in his statement Tuesday.

“He wrote stories that would otherwise have gone unwritten, and without him there are great stories that will go untold.”

Boy, 16, arrested in slaying of elderly Sacramento-area couple

Wrong-way driver arrested in multiple-car crash on 14 Freeway

Woman killed in West Hills talked to LAPD about estranged husband

Twitter: @anblanx

Twitter: @LAJourno