A driver who witnessed the fiery crash that killed journalist Michael Hastings says the vehicle the 33-year-old was driving shook his car "like a freight truck" as it flew by early Tuesday morning in Los Angeles.
"Was stopped at a red light tonight when a pearl white Mercedes flew past," Michael Carter wrote on Facebook a few hours later. "It shook my car like a freight truck going by. Saw it burst into flames a quarter mile down the road when it hit a tree."
In a Facebook message to Yahoo News, Carter explained in detail what he saw:
I was stopped at the light at Santa Monica [Boulevard], headed south on Highland [Avenue]. I looked down to turn my radio down, and this car just blasted past me through the red light—it shook my car. No telling how fast the driver was going. A taxi driver was in the far right lane and we looked at each other, both saying, "What the hell was that?"... By the time the light changed, I could only see the tail lights of the white Mercedes—it was probably past Willoughby by then which was the next red light that I got stopped at. The Mercedes was flying down Highland. The same cab driver pulled up to the light at Willoughby [Avenue] and I looked over at him again in disbelief. Right as I did, the cab driver said something to the effect of, "He didn't make it." The [Mercedes] was all the way south of Melrose [Avenue] at this point.
I looked down Highland and saw a giant fireball at the base of one of the palms that line the medians on Highland. It was surreal. Even from as far away as I was, I could see how violent an impact it had been. I live in the area so parked near my place and sprinted over the the scene of the accident. As I was running, a couple of workers from the service station at the corner of Melrose and Highland were also running over. In broken English, one of them and I traded stories of what we saw as we ran. From what I could understand, he saw the car come off the ground at some point—maybe when [it] crossed Melrose.
A Hancock Park resident was already spraying the car with his water hose when we got to it, but wasn't making any progress. The car was engulfed. I couldn't see inside it. Fire trucks and police cars were at the scene almost immediately, it seemed.
I stayed and watched firefighters extinguish the the blaze. Bummed a cigarette from a guy named Jeremy and traded stories about what we saw. He was right around Melrose and Highland when it happened. I gave a statement to police and walked home.