Michael Hastings Death: L.A. Coroner Completes Autopsy

12:05 PM PST 08/20/2013 by Sophie Schillaci
Michael Hastings

UPDATED: The death of the 33-year-old journalist was ruled an accident -- though the report reveals a recent history of drug use.

The Los Angeles County coroner has closed its inquiry into the death of journalist Michael Hastings, ruling that the death of the 33-year-old journalist in a fiery car crash on Highland Avenue near Melrose Boulevard on June 19 was an accident.

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The report, released Tuesday, revealed the cause of death was the result of "traumatic injuries," and notes that Hastings had been wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. A small amount of methamphetamine and marijuana was found in his system, but the coroner ruled that those substances were unlikely to have contributed to his death. 

A complete case report, also released Tuesday, reveals that Hastings had suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his time as a war reporter in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the report, police officers spoke with an unnamed source close to Hastings, who said that family members had just arrived from New York in an effort to get Hastings to go to rehab. After what the family believed to be 14 years of sobriety, they suspected that Hastings had begun to use drugs again in the month prior to his accident -- shortly after moving from New York to Los Angeles.

A medical marijuana (believed to have been prescribed for his PTSD) card was found in Hastings' wallet.

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The report also mentions a previous car accident in which Hastings collided with a pole several years ago. The report says Hastings may have been under the influence of Ritalin at the time, and that Hastings had been treated for his alleged misuse of the drug.

The unnamed source also told officers that Hastings believed he was "invincible," thinking he could jump from a balcony and be OK.

Prior to his death, Hastings covered politics for BuzzFeed and was a contributor to Rolling Stone and Newsweek. His notable works included the Rolling Stone profile "The Runaway General," which eventually forced the resignation of the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal.

His death launched a number of conspiracy theories, with some speculating the journalist was killed for aggressively reporting high-profile stories. After a WikiLeaks tweet alleged that Hastings had been under investigation by the FBI, the organization replied with a statement that read: "At no time was journalist Michael Hastings ever under investigation by the FBI."

Last month, surveillance video surfaced depicting Hastings' fiery crash. According to LA Weekly, the footage was promptly turned over to police.

Hastings' survivors include his wife, Elise, a writer whom he married in 2011.

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