Michael Hastings considered himself ‘invincible,’ report says

An LAPD officer investigates the scene of a burned out crash that killed journalist Michael Hastings.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Michael Hastings, the high-profile journalist who died in a fiery crash June 18 in Los Angeles, considered himself to be “invincible” and believed he could “jump from a balcony and would be OK,” according to a coroner’s report released Tuesday.

On June 18, Hastings died of “traumatic injuries” suffered in the single-vehicle crash, setting off conspiracy theories on what led to the death of a journalist whose 2010 Rolling Stone piece ultimately brought down a four-star general.

The report released by the Los Angeles County coroner on Tuesday ended two months of speculation, painting a troubled portrait of the 33-year-old who struggled with substance abuse.

DOCUMENT: Read the autopsy report


Traces of drugs were found in Hastings’ system, and the crash apparently came hours before his family planned to stage an intervention. Hastings, according to the report, was an alcoholic who had been sober for years before beginning to take drugs about a month earlier.

Toxicology reports showed amphetamine — an indicator of recent methamphetamine use — and marijuana, though not in amounts likely to be a factor in the crash.

His family told investigators that Hastings used medical marijuana, prescribed for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder that resulted from assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan. A medical marijuana card was found in Hastings’ wallet.

Relatives also believed he was using DMT, a hallucinogenic.


Hastings had been institutionalized for rehabilitative care in 1999.

His family told detectives that Hastings had been in a traffic accident in which he crashed into a pole several years ago, and that he may have been abusing Ritalin.

Hastings was not known to be suicidal, but did consider himself “‘invincible,’ believing he could jump from a balcony and would be OK,” according to the report.

He was last seen “passed out” by a relative between 12:30 a.m. and 1 a.m. June 18, hours before the crash, which occurred just before 5 a.m.



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