Journalist Michael Hastings killed in fiery L.A. crash

Tim Cavanaugh Contributor
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Michael Hastings, a 33-year-old reporter for Buzzfeed whose Rolling Stone report on comments made by aides to Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal ended McChrystal’s career, died early Tuesday in an explosive one-car crash in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Video of the crash scene posted to YouTube shows an extremely fiery aftermath of the fatal wreck, with Hastings’ car burning furiously at 625 N. Highland Ave. The car burns on the median strip outside the office of psychic Madam Mazale.

A witness, whose workshirt indicates he is an employee of Alsco textiles at 900 N. Highland named Jose, says he saw Hastings’ car moving at an extraordinarily fast speed coming down Highland from Santa Monica Blvd., which would mean the car was traveling south. According to Jose’s description, the vehicle may have gone out of control while crossing Melrose Ave.

Debris from the wreck stretches for a few hundred feet along Highland Ave., with a tree bent over and what looks like a transmission lying on a curb several doors down from the car.

Hastings’ 2010 cover story for Rolling Stone “The Runaway General” quoted McChrystal and his aides disparaging Vice President Joe Biden and other Obama administration officials. The article led to McChrystal’s being dismissed, although a subsequent Pentagon investigation disputed the sources of some of the comments.

Hastings wrote two books of reporting on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A Rolling Stone obituary calls him a “fearless reporter” and a list of his ten tips for aspiring journalists is being widely circulated online.