UPDATE: The Los Angeles County Department of Coroner on Thursday confirmed that Hastings had been identified as the victim of the Tuesday crash. The cause of his death is pending further tests, including a toxicology report. He was identified through fingerprints through the FBI, the coroner's office said.
Journalist Michael Hastings, whose blunt Rolling Stone profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal led to the resignation of the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, died Tuesday in a car crash in Los Angeles, according to the magazine and a website for which he worked.
Officials with the Los Angeles County coroner's office could not immediately confirm if the 33-year-old Hastings was the person who died around 4:25 a.m. when a car smashed into a tree and caught fire on Highland Avenue near Melrose Avenue in the Hancock Park area.
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The circumstances of the crash were under investigation, but a cameraman at the scene said the vehicle, a Mercedes, was being driven at a high rate of speed when the crash occurred. The car's engine ended up 200 feet away from the collision site, he said.
Lt. Fred Corral of the coroner's office said the body was burned beyond recognition, and the identity of the victim would not be known until at least Wednesday.
The Hancock Park crash was the only fatal car wreck in the city today, according to police.
However, Ben Smith, editor in chief of BuzzFeed.com, issued a statement announcing Hastings' death in a car accident in Los Angeles, saying the journalist's BuzzFeed colleagues were "shocked and devastated by the news that Michael Hastings in gone."
"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. Michael was also a wonderful, generous colleague and a joy to work with. Our thoughts are with Elise (his wife) and the rest of his family and we are going to miss him."
Hastings was perhaps most famous for his candid 2010 Rolling Stone interview with McChrystal, who was then commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan and was critical of the White House's oversight of the military. His comments resulted in the general being summoned to Washington, D.C., and his eventual resignation.
Hastings was still a contributing editor at Rolling Stone.
"Great reporters exude a certain kind of electricity, the sense that there are stories burning inside them, and that there's no higher calling or greater way to live life than to be always relentlessly trying to find and tell those stories," Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana said in a story about Hastings' death posted on the magazine's website.
"I'm sad that he won't be stopping by my office for any more short visits which would stretch for two or three completely engrossing hours," Journalist Michael Hastings, whose blunt Rolling Stone profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal led to the resignation of the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, died today in a car crash in Los Angeles, according to the magazine and a website for which he worked.
Hastings wrote two books about war, including "The Operators" about Afghanistan, and "I Lost My Love in Baghdad," about Iraq. Dana said. "He will be missed."