LOS ANGELES, Calif. (KTLA) — The investigation continued on Wednesday into a fiery car crash in Hollywood that killed award-winning journalist Michael Hastings.
Hastings, 33, was perhaps best known for a Rolling Stone article that led to the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
The coroner’s office had yet to identify the victim, but both Rolling Stone and BuzzFeed, where Hastings worked most recently, reported that it was him.
The solo-vehicle crash happened near the intersection of Highland and Melrose avenues around 4:15 a.m., according to the LAPD.
Hastings’ Mercedes-Benz slammed into a tree and caught fire.
“I was just coming northbound on Highland and I seen a car going really fast, and all of a sudden I seen it jackknife,” said Luis Cortez, who witnessed the wreck.
“I just seen parts fly everywhere and I slammed on my brakes and stopped and tried to call 911,” Cortez added.
The engine of the vehicle was found in a yard about 100 feet away.
The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. Coroner’s officials said the body was too badly burned to make an immediate identification.
Police were investigating the possibility that speed may have been a factor in the crash.
Meantime, friends, family and colleagues were trying to come to terms with the news, and to offer some insight into Hastings’ life.
BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith issued a statement on Tuesday, saying his team was “shocked and devastated by the news.”
“Michael was a great, fearless journalist with an incredible instinct for the story and a gift for finding ways to make his readers care about anything he covered, from wars to politicians,” Smith said.
“He wrote stories that would otherwise have gone unwritten, and without him there are great stories that will go untold,” he said.
Friends said that, because of the nature of Hastings’ work, he often led a very paranoid lifestyle.
“A lot of his friends were worried that he was in a very agitated state, yes. No question, people were concerned,” said Cenk Uygur, host of “The Young Turks.”
“He was incredibly tense and very worried and was concerned that the government was looking in on his material,” he said.
“I don’t know what his state of mind was at 4:30 in the morning, but I do know what his state of mind was in general, and it was a nervous wreck.”
In addition to his work for Rolling Stone and BuzzFeed, Hastings was also a contributor for GQ and Newsweek. He leaves behind a wife.