NEW YORK — Michael Hastings, an award-winning freelance reporter known for an intrepid, gonzo-style journalism that took him to war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq and, most famously, brought down a US Army general, died Tuesday at the age of 33.
His death, in a car crash in Los Angeles, was confirmed by his wife, Elise Jordan.
Mr. Hastings was believed to have been the sole occupant of the car, which struck a tree at high speed, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office. He lived in New York City.
In a posting commemorating Mr. Hastings, the news website BuzzFeed, to which he contributed, wrote:
“Michael Hastings was really only interested in writing stories someone didn’t want him to write — often his subjects; occasionally his editor. While there is no template for a great reporter, he was one for reasons that were intrinsic to who he was: ambitious, skeptical of power and conventional wisdom, and incredibly brave.”
In 2010, Mr. Hastings won a George Polk Award, presented annually by Long Island University for reporting in the public interest.
The award honored his Rolling Stone magazine cover story, “The Runaway General,” published that June.
In it, Mr. Hastings profiled General Stanley A. McChrystal, then the top commander of US forces in Afghanistan.
The article quoted the general and members of his staff making disparaging comments about members of the Obama administration, including Vice President Joe Biden, with respect to their handling of the Afghan campaign.
Within days of its publication, President Obama met briefly with McChrystal in the Oval Office before firing him, ending his 34-year military career.
An inquiry into the article by the Defense Department inspector general the next year found “insufficient” evidence of wrongdoing by the general, his military aides, and civilian advisers.
The inspector general’s report also questioned the accuracy of some aspects of the article, which was repeatedly defended by Mr. Hastings and Rolling Stone’s editors.
Mr. Hastings was a contributing editor at Rolling Stone at his death and had also written for GQ and Newsweek magazines.
As a 25-year-old correspondent for Newsweek, Mr. Hastings covered the Iraq war.
His fiancée, Andrea Parhamovich, followed him there, taking a job with a nongovernmental organization. She was killed in 2007 when her car was ambushed by Sunni insurgents.
Mr. Hastings’s memoir of the experience, “I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story,” was published in 2008.
Besides his wife, Mr. Hastings leaves his parents, Brent and Molly Hastings; two brothers, Jeff and Jon; and his grandmother, Ruth Mahon Hastings.