By on August 14, 2013

When this website reported on the death of Michael Hastings, your humble author’s comments regarding the odd nature of the crash wound up everywhere from the front page of the Fox News website to the Facebook pages of various relatives who didn’t notice that I was the author.

There’s now surveillance footage of the crash, which frankly looks more like the Castle Bravo test than a regular car crash. And at least one source has “calculated” an awfully low and suspicious-sounding speed of impact from that footage.

From the not-always-100%-conspiracy-theory-free Infowars comes a
report that Hastings might have been going just 35mph at the time of the crash:

Analysis of the recently released surveillance footage of Hastings’ vehicle in the moments before the crash, which was carried out by SDSU professor Morteza M. Mehrabadi, Professor and Interim Chair Areas of Specialization: Mechanics of Materials, also suggests that Hastings was not speeding before his Mercedes hit a tree… By measuring the distance traveled by the car on the surveillance clip and the time that elapsed before the explosion, Professor Mehrabadi was able to calculate that the car was only traveling at a speed of 35 MPH, and not speeding as some reports claimed.

“The pre-explosion and slower speed could also explain the minimal damage to the palm tree and the facts the rear tires rested against the curb. It also provides an explanation for the location of the engine and drive train at more than 100 feet from the tree impact area,”

So the theory works like so:

  • Michael Hastings was investigating something really scary.
  • Somebody set him up the bomb.
  • Explosion, and a hell of an explosion it was
  • Crash.

Again, I have to say that I’ve seen plenty of cars crash at 100mph. I’ve crashed a car myself at 100mph, at Mid-Ohio, with a standard fuel tank in it (which seemed like a good way to save a few bucks right until I ran into the Armco) and I didn’t explode. I’m not ready to say that this was the work of whatever Star Chamber exists in this country, but it continues to look awfully odd to me.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

107 Comments on “How Fast Was Michael Hastings Really Going?...”


  • avatar
    bachewy

    I’m not a professor but that way more than 35mph.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      The video isn’t running at real time, if that helps.

      • 0 avatar
        notapreppie

        The lack of time scale makes it impossible for us armchair physicists to say anything of meaning.

        • 0 avatar
          Pig_Iron

          That’s unbelievable! Castle Bravo test indeed. Patton died in an “accident” too.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Why are these types of things always a video of a video, using a 30 year old Zenith and a $45 camcorder from a garage sale.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            haha exactly! we can get full HD quality video from a cell phone these days, but any so-called important conspiracy theory videos always look like they were made with 1970s tech.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            Corey, mnm: Security cameras are mostly still analog-signal CCD cameras. The installed base is mostly old, and even new ones are generally not much better in image quality.

            So the image quality tells us nothing, here.

            (On the other hand, my heuristic of “InfoWars means it’s a damned lie or so distorted as to round to damned lie” has almost never failed me.)

      • 0 avatar
        bolhuijo

        “For the benefit of the court, please explain ‘time code.\'”

        “Just because I don’t know what it is, doesn’t mean I’m lying.”

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        So where did Infowars get 35 mph?

        If that video is real time, that suggests something like 200 mph (given the car seems to be doing around a hundred meters a second before the crash).

        I’ve seen an engine fly over fifty feet or more from the front end of an Audi wrapping itself around a lightpole at around 80 mph… so the engine flying a hundred feet from this one isn’t all that unbelievable.

      • 0 avatar
        Neumahn

        Why does the ‘surveillance’ footage appear to be hand held?

    • 0 avatar
      LuciferV8

      From: http://www.thepeopleshistory.net/2013/06/important-information-regarding-death.html

      “Wikileaks revealed that their lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, was contacted by Hastings just hours before his death claiming that he was being investigated by the FBI.
      Hastings sent an email to colleagues hours before his death stating: re:NSA… I’m onto a big story and need to go off the radar for a bit.
      One eyewitness described the crash as such: “The Car Was Bouncing, Flames and Sparks Near the Gas Tank. When He Hit the Palm Tree That’s When the Flames Were Higher. There Were Explosions and Everything… No One Could Approach the Car Because it Kept Exploding.”
      The accident only involved Hastings car, no other vehicles.
      Police, Firefighters and EMS have been told not to comment on the investigation
      Another witness described the scene: “It sounded like a bomb went off.” “My house shook, the windows were rattling.”
      LAPD will not release a police report
      Former marine friend told media that Hasting’s was threatened: “We will hunt you down and kill you” for McChrystal reporting
      Hastings was driving a new Mercedes C-250, a car not prone to bursting into flames before a crash.
      Hastings had worked on numerous articles critical of the establishment, including: The Rise of the Killer Drones: How America Goes to War in Secret, Julian Assange: The Rolling Stone Interview, Another Runaway General: Army Deploys Psy-Ops on U.S. Senators, America’s Last Prisoner of War.
      One of Hastings articles had resulted in the forced resignation of General McChrystal.
      The Mercedes’ drive train was about 50-60 yards away from the crash site.
      Hastings had said in a 2012 Reddit AMA that he received numerous death threats.
      When he died, Hastings was working on a story regarding current CIA director Brennan.
      No brake/skid marks
      Some of his work was probing the CIA
      Hastings was Cremated, even though his family never requested it.
      Wife has hired a private investigator
      Michael Hasting had not had a drink in 5 years”

      I rest my case.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    Wow, an “all your base” reference. Hang on, my early college days are coming back to me.

    Conspiracy theorists seem to always forget something: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And not the hints, allegations, things-left-unsaid, circumstantial crap that they always trot out.

    The camera angle is non-orthogonal to the direction of motion. There’s no clearly labeled scale to compare with. The resolution of the video makes it so that any object being used as a scale will have all the precision of a hand grenade. I’m no expert but I’d say that any conclusions from the surveillance video should be expected to have error margins as large or larger than the quantity being measured.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Snowden knows how lucky he is, for now. Barnaby Jack, not so much

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Looks like he was hauling a– and lost control. As to why the car blew up? Dunno. Did you see what it hit and how it hit it? I didn’t think so. It could have rolled over something sticking up from the road, like a post, that tore the fuel tank open, for one example. Just because you crashed at Mid-Ohio and didn’t blow up doesn’t mean every 100 mph crash is going to be the same.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    There is no way a car of any type hits a tree at 35 mph and loses its entire drivetrain. For that drivetrain to be 100 feet down the road, it would have to travel another 2 or 3 seconds, AFTER the energy of separating it from the vehicle had been dissipated.

    He was flying, and I’m not basing it upon the video.

    As for the fire, maybe his M-B had that terrible R1234yf refrigerant in it. M-B warned us about that stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Yeah, and if one was such a super-sekrit Goverment Murder Operative as to make a special bomb to detach the drivetrain to make it look like he was going super fast…

      Wouldn’t one be able to just plug something into the ECU/car control system and *make the car actually drive real fast*? Maybe even disable the brakes, too?

      Christ, for what it takes to get “special secret bomb that makes it LOOK like a high speed crash” it’s easier to just *make* a high speed crash.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Without the original time base, this is useless. Passing it around just inflames the passions of the tinfoilhatters.

    Is there some reason that this was clipped to the minimum length possible? It would have been useful to see some other car go past for comparison purposes. The lack of any useful timescale or context suggests to me that this video was provided by someone interested in fostering a conspiracy theory, rather than getting at the truth.

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      ^^^ What he said.

    • 0 avatar
      slow kills

      The ‘tinfoilhatter’ slur loses effectiveness when so-called conspiracy theorists are so often proven right.
      There is no reason NOT to pass this around, unless somebody has something to hide.

      • 0 avatar
        notapreppie

        Oooh, ooh, I know these logical fallacies…

        Lets see…

        * Confirmation Bias
        * Cherry Picking
        * Existential Fallacy
        * Proof by example
        * Argument from Benefit
        * Argumentum Ad Ignoratiam

        Wow, you really packed a lot in to so few sentences. I’m impressed.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        “here is no reason NOT to pass this around, unless somebody has something to hide.”

        Yes there is; it feeds paranoia.

        Get a decent length of video with another car passing by for comparison or the timebase or some actual measurements. See what you can compute with actual mathmatics. Get back to us when you’ve got some kind of proof that car (which hit hard enough to burp up its drivetrain in the crash) was doing the legal limit.

        • 0 avatar
          slow kills

          Internet users are collectively very good at finding and piecing together facts. That is why some are so afraid of this type of information being public.
          You want some smoking gun, but in the real world it’s death of a thousand cuts that leads to damning evidence. Nice try at stopping the avalanche of truth.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            Internet users are good at fostering paranaoia and bogus conspiracy theories.

            They drown out the actual Woodwards and Bernsteins.

            As for the “avalanche of truth” in this particular case, this is a bad quality video that shows an accident in the far distance with no way to get any useful measure of ANYTHING. I’m supposed to be impressed?

          • 0 avatar
            LuciferV8

            “Nice try at stopping the avalanche of truth.”

            Indeed.
            They are getting more pathetic with each passing day.

            How many scandals?

            How many lies keep getting exposed?

            Yet these arrogant, snooty, trendbots still parrot whatever the government and MSM tell them.

            It’s because they have a personal investment in this, doing whatever they can to preserve their precious self-image as informed, intelligent individuals who are above all those silly “conspiracy theories”, no matter how well-founded they are.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        “Often” proven right?

        In my experience, “pretty much never” in detail, and “very rarely” in broad outlines.

        (And since it has so little context, due to clipping, that it’s as if someone deliberately tried to prevent anyone from – say – seeing another car go by to compare the two, it makes me think someone’s trying to manipulate me.

        After all, if he was going a normal traffic speed, showing other cars in the clip would *reinforce* that he wasn’t doing anything unusual, right?

        So why clip out extra proof of the conspiracy’s reality?

        Occam’s razor has a suggestion, and it’s not in favor of the thesis.)

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Where’s my tin foil hat ? .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    bucksnort

    Why is the camera moving? I thought surveillance cameras were fixed.

    It’s either very windy or the camera was handheld.

    ?

  • avatar
    ChesterChi

    Why is the camera moving ? I thought surveillance/security cameras were mounted to a solid object.

  • avatar
    autojim

    Even at 2 to 4 FPS (typical surveillance camera frame rate, saves disk space), that’s faster than 35mph.

    Benzes don’t shed their drivelines like that in a 35mph hit on a pole (tree). Benz fuel tanks are within the wheelbase of the car and generally very well-protected.

    Hell, a 35 mph hit shouldn’t have even jammed the doors. Yeah, there’s something fishy about that.

  • avatar
    Bored383

    it sure looks like the car was spinning the whole way through the field of view the camera had.

  • avatar
    slow kills

    If anyone can explain the multiple surges in the explosive fire, please do. To the amateur, this sure does look more like a series of explosive charges than the official collision-based automobile fire theory.

  • avatar
    JD321

    I would think the IIHS would give the C-Class a “Poor” rating when the engine ejects 100 feet from the car after an offset 35 MPH crash.

    Government worshipers make me laugh.

  • avatar

    When I was a kid, we had an ant colony and a termite colony right next to each other in my back yard. The termites were mostly on/in the fence, and the ants were under the concrete slab next to it.

    One day I went out and busted up the little exterior tunnels the termites built on the fence and rustled up all the ants to the point that they caught sight/scent of each other and all out insect war ensued. I sat there for a few hours just watching.

    I kinda get the feeling that’s what TTAC does with some posts. They poke just enough to queue it up, then sit back and watch.

  • avatar
    FPF422

    Just a little something that could shed some light… If the tank was almost empty and filled with fumes and that it ruptured while some metallic part was dragging and making ‘hot’ sparks, it could easily explode… not unlike the Mitsubishi Zero during WW2 (the US planes having, unlike, them a bladder inside the tank eliminating the fumes)but I’ve had my fair share off crashes (or seeing them happen just in front of me)and I’ve only seen it once… on a car leaving the road tail first in a rocky ravine

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Some dashcam video shortly before the accident:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNhqKRugk8Q

    It is said to be Hasting’s car. One could probably get a decent speed estimate from this… never mind that he blew through a red light.

    Looks pretty fast to me.

    • 0 avatar
      slow kills

      …”said to be Hasting’s car.”
      What kind of pointless rumor-mongering is that? Who said it? Based on what?
      Get back to me when we have a connection based on something beyond fantasy.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Something solid? Like an unmeasurable video that some nobody from nowhere says proves the guy was doing 35mph?

        I presume the engine was ejected because DIA operatives sawed most of the way through the engine mounts, so as to simulate the damage from a 100mph accident.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Then there is technology like this…

    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?id=144723265565692&story_fbid=545768298794518

  • avatar
    shelvis

    The always-100%-conspiracy-theory-laden Infowars is now a source?
    Did you check to see if maybe Nostradamus wrote any letters to the Weekly World News to corroborate this story?

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Reminds me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4meFC1ee7Q

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Bombs leave behind the residue of the explosive used. Also, the triggering device(s). And in this case, there must have been more than one bomb — one in the trunk which blew up the gas tank. Another in the front which launched the engine, going of concurrently or in quick succession. Certainly, such a bomb (or bombs) would have blown wheels off, turned chunks of metal into screaming shards, and propelled the hood a couple blocks (considering the explosion sent the engine block 100 feet).

    But there have been no reports explosive residues found, or photos showing evidence of bombs placed inside the car. Unless I missed it/them. Of course, no reports of explosive evidence don’t mean there wasn’t any evidence. It just means the local police and local officials are quashing the evidence, and are in on the plot, too.

    And that’s a bit of a stretch.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree with everything you said except this:

      “It just means the local police and local officials are quashing the evidence, and are in on the plot, too.”

      If you think local officials aren’t going to forget things in their report if asked to by the kind folk in sunglasses who showed up in a blacked out Yukon, think again.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        That part appeared to be sarcasm, or did I misread the tone?

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        So, the Feds are going to organize a hit and then depend on the local PD rolling over and playing dead in order to get away with it?

        Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

        • 0 avatar
          stryker1

          There seem to be a lot of people who have watched the movie “Shooter”, and thought it was a documentary.

        • 0 avatar
          toxicroach

          With multiple explosive charges, none the less.

          None of this fancy shamncy give the guy an OD of sleeping pills or a fake mugging gone wrong gambit, they go with the ‘rig the car with explosives and then stage a car accident in front of a surveillance camera” stratagem, leaving just enough evidence for the really smart people to piece it together.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          If this guy was truly “hit by the feds” he would have simply disappeared and reported dead later on some kind of high profile assignment against terrorism or some BS. Why put on a show and risk media attention?

          My point is if your a local official and people way above you pay grade show up you might forget stuff in the report.

          • 0 avatar
            slow kills

            “Why put on a show and risk media attention?”
            Because you need someone killed TONIGHT,which, given the nature of wikileaks, is very plausible.
            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/22/michael-hastings-email_n_3484118.html

            Also note that the FBI is being sued for ignoring Freedom of Information Act requests on their investigation.
            http://rt.com/usa/fbi-lawsuit-michael-hastings-753/

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’m still not convinced it was a “fed hit”. Now if we still want to go with the assassination angle, I could buy less professional people on a tight schedule use a crude bomb to quickly whack someone. But then somebody has to manage the media circus and keep everything suppressed with the locals. If you have the access to resources that can actually do that, you have access to resources that can just neatly disappear him.

            Simplest explanation is this man was drunk, got spooked by something or was possibly being chased, and killed himself in the process.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      How is this suddenly about the “Feds”? Why is there an assumption that if foul play is involved it must be the government? Is there no one else on earth that might want this guy dead?

      Sure says a lot about how we think about our government

  • avatar
    stryker1

    The video certainly makes it look like he was going a million miles an hour. Not sure where 35 mph comes from.

  • avatar
    old5.0

    The problem with most conspiracy theories, this one included, is that they ascribe an unrealistic level of competence to our esteemed government.

    The guy drove too fast and offed himself. Simple.

  • avatar
    fishiftstick

    How come these so-called whistleblowers get all kinds of classified intel, but somehow manage to miss the good stuff–assassins who take out journalists by staging strange car explosions, the spooks from the grassy knoll, the 9/11 demolition team, the Area 51 aliens and Randy Quaid’s Hollywood star whackers?

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    When I first glimpsed this article’s title I thought:

    “Michael Hastings… Michael Hastings…
    Actor?.. Singer?… Golfer?… Illinois Enema Bandit?”

    But then I read some more and remembered.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    I rolled up on the aftermath of a vehicle borne IED in Baghdad that was said to contain around 350 pounds of explosive and the engine wasn’t 100 feet from the car. This whole things sounds fishy BUT speed had to be a factor because the amount of explosive to rip that motor out and throw it 100 feet without the assistance of a lot of momentum from the car would have certainly torn up the houses in the area. The biggest blast I took was an 80 pound EFP (think homemade HEAT round) and it rocked my world pretty good in an 8 ton truck and the buildings on the other side of the road (4 lane, divided road) had clearly had a bomb go off near them (broken windows, crap thrown everywhere).

    Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is dirty, but the fact is that a blast would have left more evidence around it and the car looked nothing like any vehicle I ever saw that had actually been detonated by a bomb inside of it, though they likely had more explosive than any CIA hit.

    This would be more akin to the magnetic bombs they used to hit Iraqi Government types with. Someone rides by in traffic and sticks a little bomb to your car as they pass. It blows up and burns the car up. In any of those I saw the engine was still in the hulk of the vehicle.

    If this was a hit it was some Jason Borne take over the cars computer stuff…or maybe Mercedes has a batch of bad floormats or gas pedals.

  • avatar
    DrSandman

    You all are over-thinking this… Ever see the Blues Brothers and the scene with the Winnebago launching into the lake with the superglue?

    Undetectable bombs and squashing evidence?!? Amateurs!

    (edit for spelling…)

  • avatar
    Austin Greene

    Sure looks like he took one for the Gipper.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    Bah! Ideas for idiots. This is a combination of stupidity and physics. Numbnuts was high and speeding. Hits the crown of a major intersection and goes airborne. Strangely, MB’s don’t seem to do to well with dukes of hazzard stunts and he collapses the front suspension, probably breaks things like motor mounts and loses control of the car. Hits a tree at an offset and the engine gets launched. At his high rate of speed it jams the door and the car catches fire. C’est la vie.

  • avatar
    agent534

    Here is the link to a 2012 Mercedes C-Class Coupe CRASH TEST.
    Notice how it doesn’t burst into flames and puke its engine down the street.
    youtube.com/watch?v=5At97G_U2kk

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      Official crash tests are done at 35-40 mph. 45 if it’s an NCAP test.

      Not at over 100 mph. Which is how fast the car appears to be going… in the absence of a time scale on the video, that is… While surveillance cameras take at a low framerate, if it’s replayed on the surveillance monitoring system itself, it’s replayed at the same framerate it was taken at.

  • avatar
    vaujot

    FWIW, the wikipedia article on Hastings reports that eyewitness testimony claims the car to have been speeding and that neither his widow nor his family believe there was a conspiracy.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Isn’t there a black box in late model Mercedes C-Classes which would say how fast he was going?

  • avatar
    mr.cranky

    His death remains suspicious based on the nature of whatever he was investigating.

    Not to put on a tinfoil hat or anything but plenty of people have been “suicided” to keep the wraps on sensitive information.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    I would SO love to see a little icon beside each commenter’s avatar that indicates engineer or laity.

    Maybe a helicopter vs. a haystack.

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    how fast? Too fast.

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    a cocaethylene-fueled successful attempt at loosing these mortal coils at a high rate of speed, thus leaving not with a whimper, but a bang.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States