Newly released surveillance footage shows what appears to be an uncharacteristically bright explosion from the crash.
New surveillance footage from Los Angeles restaurant Pizzeria Mozza, which captured the single-vehicle car accident that killed investigative journalist and war correspondent Michael Hastings, 33, earlier this year in June, confirms reports from at least seven neighbors that they heard multiple large explosions.
According to San Diego 6 News, the new surveillance video provides new information about the incident, which some say may not have been an accident. As Mint Press News previously reported, hours before his death, WikiLeaks says the journalist contacted the organization’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, and said the FBI was investigating him.
The new surveillance footage “shows a flash of light appearing at the 13-14-second mark, the headlights are on at 14 seconds, but all lights are extinguished at the 16-second mark. The car then turns left and the first horizontal explosion appears just after the 16-second mark (it ejects the left front tire across northbound highland approximately 40-50 feet). The second explosion engulfs the engine compartment at the 17-second mark. The third and largest explosion consumes the passenger compartment at the 17-18-second mark.”
News reports say that based on the intensity of the fire, accelerant may have been involved since gasoline only burns at 530 to 550 degrees Fahrenheit.
The palm tree Hastings’ car hit was scorched and had a few wounds at the base, which some say is minimal damage if Hastings’ 3,538-pound car struck the tree at a 100 mph, as investigators have reported.
Similarly, the curb had a few scratches but not any major fractures, and the car’s tires were found resting against the curb.
Before Hastings died, he not only contacted WikiLeaks, but sent an email to close friends 15 hours before he died, letting them know he was onto a “big story,” so needed to get off the radar for awhile.
In his email, Hastings wrote that 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 news-gathering practices or related journalism issues.”
Hastings reportedly copied Staff Sgt. Joseph Biggs on the email. Hastings met Biggs in 2008 when he was covering the war in Afghanistan. Biggs said he was blind-copied on the email and called the message “very panicked.”
“It alarmed me very much,” Biggs said. “I just said it doesn’t seem like him. I don’t know, I just had this gut feeling and it just really bothered me,” he said.
But Laura Eimiller, the FBI’s Los Angeles spokeswoman, maintains the agency was not conducting an investigation involving Hastings.
Hastings’ brother, Jeff Hastings, said that much of his family does not believe the conspiracy theories that Michael Hastings was assassinated. However, Hastings’ wife and some very close family friends feel differently.
Some media outlets also wonder if Hastings was targeted by the FBI and have filed freedom of information requests, hoping to see the police report of the accident, but so far the Los Angeles Police Department has denied the release of any information, saying that a federal investigation may be in progress.
Hastings was a reporter for BuzzFeed and Rolling Stone who became well-known after he wrote a piece for Rolling Stone in which he profiled Gen. Stanley McChrystal. The profile included statements from McChrystal that were critical of the Obama administration and is thought to have contributed to the general’s resignation in 2010.