Journalist Michael Hastings likely died within a few seconds of his speeding car hitting the palm tree in the median of Highland Avenue near Melrose in June, the Los Angeles County Coroner's autopsy report said today. The report finds that Hastings died from the trauma of impact to the sole of his right foot and the front of his body. Traces of amphetamine consistent with the recent use of methamphetamine and the active ingredient in marijuana were detected in his system, but the report concluded they were not a factor in the accident. Hastings had arrived in Los Angeles the day before, and the report notes that his brother was coming the day of the crash to try to get Hastings to go into detox for drug use.
Fans of Hastings' work on the war in Afghanistan and on national security have considered his death at the age of 33 suspicious. After arriving in LA, he had said he was onto a hot story and was being watched, and Hastings' supporters contend that he wouldn't have driven down Highland at more than 100 miles an hour. But his wife says she believes the crash was an unlucky accident, and the coroner's report would seem to add no evidence supporting the conspiracy theories.
The report does detail extreme physical injuries from the high-speed crash and notes the body showed charring that occurred after death. The wreckage had caught fire upon impact. Here is the report on the LA Times website, but it is first of all an autopsy report: read only if you are prepared for the kind of trauma that a high-speed crash inflicts on the human body.
LA Observed photo of Hastings memorial at his death site: Judy Graeme