A Los Angeles County coroner’s autopsy found traces of amphetamine and marijuana in the body of journalist Michael Hastings, according to a report released Tuesday.
But the drugs were unlikely to have contributed to the fiery crash that killed Hastings, the report stated. Hastings was unlikely to have been intoxicated at the time of his death.
Hastings died instantly of “massive blunt force trauma consistent with a high speed front-end impact to the sole of the right foot and to the front of the torso.” The impact of the crash, not the resulting fireball, is what killed him.
Hastings had started using drugs after 14 years of being sober, his family told investigators. A brother said that Hastings was “currently using DMT,” an extremely potent but short-lasting psychedelic drug. He also had a medical marijuana card.
Hastings was killed in June when his 2013 Mercedes C250 crashed into a palm tree in Los Angeles at about 4:15 a.m. The vehicle burst into flames and the 33-year-old journalist died at scene.
Prior to his death, Hastings had last been seen “passed out” at his home.
Hastings death immediately ignited suspicions of foul play. He was best known for a Rolling Stone article that ended the career of General Stanley McChrystal. He had a reputation for challenging the powerful.
Hours before his death, Hastings sent an email to his colleagues, warning he was being investigated by the FBI. The FBI has since denied Hastings was ever under investigation.
Rumors swirled that military or government officials had played a role in the crash, either as revenge for his previous reporting or to prevent damaging reporting in the future.
Those rumors were amplified by a false report that Hastings’ body was cremated by authorities without the family’s consent before an autopsy could be performed. Hastings’ family said they explicitly asked for him to be cremated.