Report: Michael Hastings feared his car had been tampered with

According to the LA Weekly, reporter Michael Hastings asked to borrow a friend's car shortly before his death

Topics: Michael Hastings, BuzzFeed, conspiracy theory, Los Angeles,

War correspondent Michael Hastings, who died in a car crash in April, had reportedly become concerned that his car had been tampered with in the days leading up to his death, and asked friend Jordanna Thigpen to borrow hers, according to new profile in the LA Weekly.

From the report:

Helicopters often circle over the hills, but Hastings believed there were more of them around whenever he was at home, keeping an eye on him. He came to believe his Mercedes was being tampered with. “Nothing I could say could console him,” Thigpen says.

One night in June, he came to Thigpen’s apartment after midnight and urgently asked to borrow her Volvo. He said he was afraid to drive his own car. She declined, telling him her car was having mechanical problems.

“He was scared, and he wanted to leave town,” she says.

The next day, around 11:15 a.m., she got a call from her landlord, who told her Hastings had died early that morning. His car had crashed into a palm tree at 75 mph and exploded in a ball of fire.

According to the LA Weekly, this was not the only indication of Hastings’ “increasingly erratic” behavior, as writer Gene Maddaus put it, in the days leading up to his death:

The day before Hastings died, he sent an email to his BuzzFeed bosses with the subject line “FBI investigation, re: NSA.” The email informed them that “the Feds are interviewing ‘my close friends and associates,’ ” and advised them to get a lawyer if they were contacted. (No friends or associates have stepped forward to say that they were interviewed, and the FBI has denied it was investigating Hastings.)



As Salon’s Natasha Lennard reported following the accident, conspiracy theories about Hastings’ death were swirling around, largely emanating from the WikiLeaks Twitter account. A coroner’s report released this week found that Hastings had drugs in his system, but they “likely did not contribute” to the accident.

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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