33-year-old, successful journalist Michael Hastings died on Tuesday morning, June 18th, in a Hollywood neighborhood when his car crashed into a palm tree, resulting in a deadly crash and fire.
The young reporter, who had received a George Polk Award in 2010, was seen by a witness, interviewed by KTLA, heading north on Highland in Hancock Park in Hollywood at approximately 4:15 am Tuesday morning. The witness then saw Hastings’ vehicle jackknife. Today, the burned tree he crashed into still stands and is accompanied by flowers.
Meanwhile, the loud sound of the explosion drew many onlookers outside of their residencies in the neighborhood. One local resident went as far as trying to douse the fire with a garden hose in an attempt to stop the rising flames that engulfed the vehicle.
Due to the nature of the crash and the fire, authorities could not identify the victim right away. Additionally, the car engine fell 50 to 60 yards from the collision and ended up landing next to a telephone pole. According to Fred Corral, Coroner’s Lieutenant, the victim’s body was unidentifiable.
During his successful journalism career, Hastings acted as a war correspondent in the Middle East and covered both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also authored books on the war, including The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of American’s War in Afghanistan. Hastings also wrote for Rolling Stone, BuzzFeed, GQ Magazine and Newsweek. He was known as a fearless, intellectual individual who was beloved by his employers and peers. Both Rolling Stone Managing Editor Will Dana and BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith remember Hastings fondly.
He was best known for the cover story he penned in the June 2010 issue of Rolling Stone (for which he was a contributing editor), which examined General Stanley McChrystal’s outspoken critique of the war policy of President Obama’s administration and Vice President Joe Biden. The article was credited with ending McChrystal’s military career as the United States military chief in Afghanistan.
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