When journalist Michael Hastings died in a car accident in Los Angeles early on the morning of June 18, he left a trail of questions in his wake. On Tuesday, L.A. officials — along with his family — finally had some answers.

According to the Los Angeles coroner’s office, the most immediate cause of Hastings’ death at 33 was the “traumatic injuries” he incurred when his Mercedes crashed and burst into flames on Highland Avenue in Hollywood. However, toxicology reports released Tuesday, along with information from his family about his apparent relapse into drug use after more than a decade of sobriety, have brought added background to his story. The Los Angeles Times reported the news after the report’s release:

Coroner’s officials said Hastings had traces of amphetamine in his system, consistent with possible intake of methamphetamine many hours before death, as well as marijuana. Neither were considered a factor in the crash, according to toxicology reports.

The cause of death was massive blunt force trauma consistent with a high-speed crash. He likely died within seconds, the report said.

Hastings had arrived in Los Angeles from New York the day before the accident, with his brother scheduled to arrive later the day of the crash “as his family was attempting to get [Hastings] to go to detox,” the report stated.

Hastings was believed sober for 14 years, but had recently begun using drugs again in the past month or so, according to the coroner’s office, based on interviews with family members.

In July, BuzzFeed, where Hastings also worked in recent months, set up a $100,000 yearlong fellowship in his name for national security reporting.

Posted by Kasia Anderson

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