it must have came out before the car impacted the tree where it came to rest.
Simple physics will tell you that the engine - by the way still attached to the transmission - would continue to move in the direction of travel upon detachment. Seeing as how it would be impossible for the engine to travel opposite to the momentum of the vehicle (without another outside force acting upon it), one must conclude that the engine came out of the car prior to impacting the tree.
I think it's time to rule foul play back in.
It seems to me Michael Hastings was murdered - probably by the use of an explosive device in combination with an electronic takeover of his vehicle by the perpetrators. Who has these type of capabilities? I think everyone knows the answer.
Stalin is smiling upon these revelations. This is not your dad's America anymore. The tyrants have declared war on journalists. This may be the beginning of the purge.