No foul play suspected in Michael Hastings’ death, LAPD says

An LAPD officer investigates the scene of a single-vehicle accident in which journalist Michael Hastings was killed when his vehicle crashed into a tree and caught fire in Hancock Park.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Share via

The Los Angeles Police Department said there appears to be no foul play in the one-vehicle accident that killed journalist Michael Hastings.

The Los Angeles County coroner on Thursday positively identified Hastings as the driver of a Mercedes that crashed on Highland Avenue near Melrose Avenue on Tuesday morning.

Hastings’ involvement with hot-button stories has led to a variety of conspiracy theories arising on the Internet over his death. But LAPD officials said the incident appears to have been an accident and that no other vehicles were involved. Officials are trying to determine whether there was a mechanical problem with the car. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case was ongoing.


Video of the accident scene showed the car engulfed in flames. Law enforcement sources said the car appeared to be going at a high rate of speed but emphasized that the investigation was ongoing.

The death of the 33-year-old Hastings was announced by his employer, BuzzFeed.

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

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

At the time the article was published, 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,” Buzz Feed said at the time.

Hastings covered the 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