Autopsy finds drugs in journalist who died in Los Angeles crash

LOS ANGELES Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:43pm EDT

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A prominent U.S. journalist whose reporting led to the ouster of the senior U.S. military commander in Afghanistan had traces of methamphetamine in his blood when he was killed in June in a fiery Los Angeles car crash, autopsy findings showed on Tuesday.

The drugs in Michael Hastings' system were of an amount unlikely to have contributed to the crash in which the Mercedes-Benz he was driving struck a tree and burst into flames, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office report.

A Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman said at the time that "there was no evidence of foul play in the accident," but the news stirred Internet conspiracy theories suggesting the journalist had been the victim of government efforts to silence him.

Hastings, 33, was best known for a 2010 Rolling Stone profile of Army General Stanley McChrystal that quoted the military leader making disparaging remarks about President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Obama soon relieved McChrystal of his post and replaced him with then-General David Petraeus.

The autopsy found Hastings died of traumatic injuries from a car collision with a fixed object and that he succumbed to his injuries within seconds of impact.

Toxicology results showed a small amount of amphetamine in Hastings' blood consistent with "possible intake of methamphetamine many hours before death" but which would probably not have been "intoxicative" at the time of the crash.

Hastings also had marijuana in his system in the form of its metabolite, indicating possible pot use hours before his death. "Family had just arrived from New York the day prior, attempting to get decedent to go to rehab," the report said.

It also cited the initial Los Angeles police investigation as having found that Hastings had been traveling at a "high rate of speed" when he "apparently lost control of his vehicle."

Hastings' widow, Elise Jordan, in an interview with CNN host Piers Morgan earlier this month, downplayed the conspiracy theories.

"The LAPD still has an active investigation," Jordan told CNN. "I don't really have anything to add. My gut here is that it was just a really tragic accident, and I'm very unlucky and the world was very unlucky."

A June Twitter posting from anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks said the journalist contacted a WikiLeaks attorney hours before his death to tell them the FBI was investigating him. The post fueled online speculation about the nature of his death.

The FBI in a statement in June said "at no time" was Hastings under investigation by the agency.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Prudence Crowther)

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Comments (1)
GuyMontag999 wrote:
Once again, my condolences to Elise Jordan and the Hastings family. My tribute to Elise, Michael, and Andi can be found in my post, “More Lies Borne Out by Facts, If Not the Truth” –The New York Time’s Disingenuous Obituary of Michael Hastings & Their Whitewash of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s Role in “Le’Affair Rolling Stan” & “The Pat Tillman Story,” at the Feral Firefighter blog.

Here’s a 2008 Hastings quote (p. 12): “There was no good excuse for me to be back in Afghanistan or Iraq … Was part of me looking to get killed, too? To even the scales, neatly tie up my love for her, to complete the narrative? Two lovers, both dead. How tragic. … Maybe there was some part of me that didn’t want to die just yet, wanting to say, ‘**** you war, you can’t destroy me. I’m going to win this, on my own terms.’ A delusion, of course, because war always wins.”

This month, Rolling Stone reporter Tim Dickinson wrote (p. 118): “Hastings lived life at full throttle, raced his demons and, at times, took unnecessary risks. … Hasting’s younger brother…says he accepts the obvious and, in some ways, more difficult explanation for his brother’s death: that Michael simply drove too fast and didn’t survive.”

The autopsy reports that Hastings had suffered from PSTD. It’s sad it appears the wars did “win” in the end. I miss him and his fearless, truthful reporting (Ditto for Carl Prine, sidelined by migraines from IED hits).

Aug 20, 2013 10:49pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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