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Coroner: Journalist Michael Hastings had drugs in system at time of death

Michael Hastings
BuzzFeed journalist Michael Hastings, seen in a publicity photo posted on his personal Facebook account.

Michael Hastings, a journalist for BuzzFeed and Rolling Stone magazine, had traces of drugs in his system the night he died in a car accident, a newly-released autopsy report revealed.

The Los Angeles County Coroner said traces of speed and marijuana were present in Hastings’ body at the time of the crash, but the drugs likely did not contribute to his death.

Investigators said the crash happened hours before family members were to urge Hastings to go into detox, a type of drug rehabilitation, according to the Associated Press.

Investigators also said Hastings had a medical marijuana card on him at the time of the crash.

Hastings died when his vehicle crashed into a tree in a Los Angeles neighborhood in June. Days after the crash, friend Joseph Biggs leaked an email that Hastings purportedly sent to colleagues at BuzzFeed alleging federal investigators were “interviewing” his friends and associates.

Hastings also purportedly wrote that he needed to “go off the radar for a bit.” The email was sent to colleagues Jon Steinberg, Jonah Peretti and Ben Smith (in an interview with The Desk, Biggs provided details about Hastings and the email, but would not supply The Desk with a copy; Biggs later terminated his contact with The Desk after being told to do so by an activist).

The leaked email, coupled with Hastings death hours later, fueled conspiracy theories that the car crash was not incidental. For days, a sign posted at the scene of the crash read “This was NOT an accident.”

Days after the crash, the FBI issued a statement saying the agency was not investigating Hastings.

BuzzFeed has since launched a fellowship meant to honor the 33-year-old journalist. BuzzFeed says it will award one individual with the fellowship by October 1.

Associated Press: Journalist Michael Hastings did drugs before car crash

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).