Coroner: PTSD, not drugs, may factor in journalist Michael Hastings' death


Michael Hastings participates in the Guardian's 'Post-Truth Politics & The Media's Role' discussion at The LongView Gallery on May 1, 2012 in Washington, DC. A coroners report released Tuesday indicates that Hastings may have been suffering from PTSD.



LOS ANGELES — The journalist known for writing the Rolling Stone article that ended the career of the US commander in Afghanistan may have been suffering from PTSD at the time of the road accident that killed him.

Michael Hastings, 33, died instantly in a fiery single-car crash when he lost control of his Mercedes and slammed into a tree in Hollywood in June, a coroner's report released Tuesday said. 

The autopsy indicates that Hastings might have been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from his time as a war journalist in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hastings also wrote a book about the death of his fiancée in Iraq.

Toxicology reports found trace amounts of marijuana and methamphetamine in his system, indicating that he had likely taken the drugs hours earlier.

His family told investigators that he had used medical marijuana, prescribed to treat PTSD. 

However, the report says that high speed — not drugs — was likely to blame for the crash.

Hastings had struggled with alcohol addiction in the past but had been sober for 14 years, the report indicated.

His family told investigators that they believed Hastings had started using drugs within the past month. They were planning to stage an intervention to get him into a detox program on the day he died.

His June 18 death sparked a flood of conspiracy theories linked to Hastings' reports on national security affairs for Rolling Stone and Buzzfeed.

"The Runaway General," his unflattering 2010 profile of the then-commander of allied forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is credited with ending the US general's career.

Less than 24 hours before his death, Hastings emailed colleagues at Buzzfeed to say he was being checked out by the "Feds."

Hey [redacted], the Feds are interviewing my "close friends and associates." Perhaps if the authorities arrive "BuzzFeed GQ," er HQ, may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news-gathering practices or related journalism issues.
Also: I'm onto a big story, and need to go off the rada[r] for a bit.
All the best, and hope to see you all soon.

The rumors got so pervasive that the FBI was forced to release a statement denying that they were looking into the journalist's work.