While details of Michael Hastings’ death in a fiery auto crash in June remain hazy, a neighbor and close friend reports that the late journalist was afraid to drive his Mercedes coupe for fear that someone had tampered with it.
The night before Hastings’ death, he visited Jordanna Thigpen after midnight and asked to borrow her car because he was too scared to drive his own, according to an LA Weekly interview with Thigpen. He wanted to get out of town at once, but Thigpen told him her car was having mechanical issues and that he could not use it.
Around 5 o’clock that morning, Hastings crashed his car into a tree while driving at 75 mph, and his vehicle exploded into a fireball.
Thigpen, whose husband-to-be Erin Walker Markland was also killed in a car crash in April, had recently moved next door to Hastings and had grown to known him as a close confidante. They both suffered depression and found solace in each other’s company.
Thigpen told the paper that Hastings, a renowned war correspondent, had become extremely concerned about government surveillance.
She stated, “His behavior grew increasingly erratic. 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.”
His suspicions worsened after news of the Department of Justice confiscating records from the Associated Press, and then the NSA surveillance details released by Edward Snowden. According to secret-revealing website WikiLeaks, Hastings contacted one of their lawyers just hours before the crash.
Since the accident, conspiracy theorists have speculated that someone hacked Hastings’ car, or hired a hit man to dispose of him before he could reveal any incriminating political secrets.
Hastings has a reputation for exposing damaging information about high-powered people, and penned a scathing Rolling Stone article on General Stanley McChrystal in 2010 that led the official to resign as leader of the war in Afghanistan.