Michael Hastings’ Death Still Fueling Speculation a Week After Fatal Crash

The BuzzFeed journalist's widow tweets clarification over claims her husband was working on a Jill Kelley story

A week after journalist Michael Hastings' fatal car crash, speculation continues to swirl about his death in the media.

Tuesday morning, his widow Elise Jordan attempted to set one matter straight, tweeting that reports claiming he was working on a story about Jill Kelley are wrong.

Kelley, a Florida socialite, figured prominently in the scandal that led to the resignation of former CIA director David Petraeus, and later sued the FBI and the Department of Defense for violating her privacy.

Also read: BuzzFeed Journalist Michsel Hastings Dead at 33

Hastings' death has given rise to many conflicting reports. Though the LAPD said there were no signs of foul play and the FBI insists it was not investigating Hastings at the time of his death, nor had it ever, the odd circumstances surrounding the collision are hard to ignore.

Some of that speculation was fueled by Hastings himself. In an email released by KTLA on Saturday, which was sent just 15 hours before Hastings death, he said: "The Feds are interviewing my close friends and associates." 

He concluded: "I'm onto a big story, and need to go off the radat (sic) for a bit."

Last Wednesday, Wikileaks tweeted that Hastings had consulted with one of its lawyers "just a few hours" before his death, though it has offered no additional information beyond that so far.

Aside from tributes to their fallen friend and colleague, the journalists who knew Hastings have remained largely silent on his passing. In the absence of further facts, media outlets are now trotting out the experts to speculate on whether or not the LAPD's story is sound.

Also read: Michael Hastings Death: FBI Says Journalist Was Not Under Investigation

On Monday, automotive blog Jalopnik asked its "on-call physicist" Dr. Stephen Granade if it was possible for Hastings' car to explode and burn like it did in the video of the wreck. Granade said the scene looked more like a fire than an explosion, and that "cars will burn quite happily if you get them going."

But, he added, it's relatively rare for a collision to cause a fire — just 3 percent of vehicle fires on US highways between 2002 and 2005 were the result of a collision. That's over five a day, Granade pointed out.

"Just because something happens rarely doesn't mean it can't happen," Granade concluded. "I can't prove that Hastings' death was accidental, but it's not as far-fetched as you might imagine."

Also on Monday, Huffington Post chimed in by asking security analyst Richard Clarke for his take. Clarke said it's entirely possible to hack into Hastings' 2013 Mercedes C250 control system, and easily so. "You can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it's not that hard." Such an attack would be almost impossible to trace, he said.

Clarke added that he's not "a conspiracy guy," but … "my rule has always been you don't knock down a conspiracy theory until you can prove it [wrong]. And in the case of Michael Hastings, what evidence is available publicly is consistent with a car cyber attack. And the problem with that is you can't prove it."

Finally, "The Young Turks" internet news show asked Jose Rubalcava, who witnessed the entire crash, what he saw. Rubalcava said he saw sparks coming out of the car before it hit the tree, and that it was traveling as fast as it could possibly go.

Here's the video: