Journalist Michael Hastings dies; autopsy results will take weeks

Los Angeles County coroner’s officials said Wednesday the body recovered from a fiery, single-car crash in Hollywood that apparently killed journalist Michael Hastings will likely undergo an autopsy Thursday.

But an official cause of death and closure of the case is not likely for four to six weeks or perhaps longer, they said.

Coroner’s officials are hoping the results will answer why the accident happened. Officials were attempting to match dental records to help make a positive identification.

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

The body was “unrecognizable” and badly charred, police told the Los Angeles Times. The body is identified only as “John Doe 117.”


The crash occurred early Tuesday on Highland Avenue. Police said a vehicle was southbound on Highland about 4:20 a.m. when it lost control south of Melrose Avenue and smashed into a tree.

BuzzFeed first reported Hastings’ death. Hastings had opened the website’s L.A. bureau last fall. An obituary by Rolling Stone magazine followed; he had also written for that publication.

In reporting stints in Baghdad, Washington and Kabul, Hastings rejected the cozy-access reporting favored by some of his colleagues in favor of a bare-knuckle style that sometimes rubbed his peers and subjects the wrong way.

His 2010 Rolling Stone profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, “The Runaway General,” exposed the general and his staff’s disdain for their superiors, including National Security Advisor James L. Jones, Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama.

Hastings won the prestigious George Polk Award for magazine reporting and later wrote a book about McChrystal and his time in the war zone: “The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan.”

In a 2010 interview with the L.A. Times, Hastings said he admired “writers who live their lives with integrity and without compromise.” He even identified McChrystal as a kindred spirit, someone who also liked to stick it to “The Man.”


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