Michael Hastings Crash: Car Was Speeding, Engine Flew 100 Feet, Cops Say

Comments (0)


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 at 4:37 PM

  • PlanetEarthAwakens01 / YouTube / KTLA News
Even as fans of journalist Michael Hastings, known for his takedown of General Stanley McChrystal and for his probing of CIA shenanigans, focused on his coverage of the powerful in a search for answers regarding his untimely death in Hollywood, increasing evidence points to speed as a major factor in his fatal car crash early yesterday.

LAPD traffic investigators found the motor of the late-model Mercedes-Benz C250 coupe involved in the accident about 100 feet away from the car, the Weekly has learned, a clue that would indicate the vehicle was traveling at more than 60 miles an hour when it apparently veered out of control and struck a palm tree:

That's according to the expert estimation of Harry B. Ryon, a former LAPD officer who now runs his own private accident-investigation firm in Scottsdale, Ariz. The engine's location is evidence that the driver "was hauling Irish ass and lost control," Ryon told us:
With the engine torn off, the gas lines would rupture and it would start a fire.
See also: Michael Hastings Probed the CIA Before Fatal Hollywood Crash. The vehicle was traveling south on Highland Avenue just past Melrose Avenue, where Hollywood turns into Hancock Park, when it crashed and burst into flames, according to LAPD traffic investigators.
View Larger Map TV news footage shows that the car hit a palm tree in the median, not far from Mario Batali's famed Mozza restaurants. Ryon said it was possible to achieve freeway speeds on that stretch of Highland. LAPD Officer Richard French says that, contrary to reports, the department has not yet identified the victim of the crash and that it could take a while: The coroner will have to use dental records to make a positive ID, he said. It will take weeks for the coroner to conduct conclusive toxicology tests that could determine if Hastings was driving under the influence. The writer does have a history with alcohol and drugs, however. In his first book, I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story, Hastings says that he crashed a car in a drunk-driving accident when he was 19.
click to enlarge hastings_drunk.JPG
And in this True/Slant piece from 2009, Hastings describes himself as a "a recovering drunk/addict/screw-up." In another True/Slant piece, he says, "I have smoked crack." Still, conspiracy theorists are coming out of the woodwork to cast suspicion on the crash, which was reported at 4:25 a.m. Tuesday. In Hastings' 2012 book, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan, Hastings says a McChrystal staffer said to him, "We'll hunt you down and kill you if we don't like what you write." In the same book, Hastings says he hasn't had a drink in 10 years. We also were pointed to the "Boston Brakes" technique, in which the electronic management of a car, specifically a Mercedes, can be manipulated remotely to simulate an out-of-control accident. (Google it, or check this out.) And then there's this WikiLeaks tweet: Interestingly, one neighbor, Rochelle Frankel, told KTLA News the crash sounded like an explosion.
It sounded like a bomb went off in the middle of the night. My house shook. The windows were rattling.
-With reporting from L.A. Weekly staff writer Gene Maddaus Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

Related Content

Now Trending

Los Angeles Concert Tickets


  • Street League Skateboarding Super Crown World Championship
    On Sunday, Street League Skateboarding touched down in the Galen Center at USC as part of a four-stop tour for SLS's Super Crown World Championship. The L.A. stop determined the roster for Super Crown, airing August 24th on FOX Sports 1. The final eight are Nyjah Huston, Luan Oliveira, Torey Pudwill, Shane O'Neill, Paul Rodriguez, Chaz Ortiz, Matt Berger and Ishod Wair. All photos by Nanette Gonzales.
  • Comic-Con's "Celebrity" Autograph Area
    A sometimes overlooked (but still incredibly unique) aspect of San Diego Comic-Con are the celebs available to sign autographs, as well as the autograph seekers themselves. If you've ever wanted to meet the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld or the guy who played Michelangelo in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, chances are, as you wander the Autograph Area, you'll be able to connect with someone you didn't even realize you were waiting your whole life to meet! All photos by Rob Inderrieden.
  • Real Madrid Soccer Practice at UCLA
    Fans came out to greet world champion soccer team Real Madrid as they practice at UCLA. This is the first time that soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has practiced with the team this year. All photos by Jeff Cowan.