Michael Hastings died in a single-vehicle automobile crash in his Mercedes C250 Coupé at approximately 4:25 a.m. in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles on June 18, 2013. A witness to the crash said that he seemed to be driving at the car's maximum speed before the car fishtailed and crashed into a palm tree. Witnesses described the car's engine being ejected 50 to 60 yards from the scene. One eyewitness said Hasting's car exploded prior to crashing, and some press reports have described the crash as suspicious; the Los Angeles Police Department has said there are no signs of foul play.
Earlier the previous day, Hastings indicated that he believed he was being investigated by the FBI. In an email to colleagues, which was copied to and released by Hastings' friend, Army Staff Sergeant Joe Biggs, Hastings said that he was "onto a big story", that he needed to "go off the radar", and that the FBI might interview them. WikiLeaks announced that Hastings had also contacted Jennifer Robinson, one of its lawyers a few hours prior to the crash, and the LA Times reported that he was preparing new reports on the CIA at the time of his demise. The FBI released a statement denying that Hastings was being investigated.
According to Biggs, Hastings' remains were cremated and returned to Vermont. Biggs stated that his family did not want Hastings to be cremated.