Parents of UK student who died of alcohol poisoning testify about hazing prevention
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The family of a UK student, who passed away last year, are trying to change Kentucky hazing laws.
They say that their son’s death could have been prevented, and they’re hoping to prevent any more.
“Hazing is out of control throughout this country,” said Tracey Hazelwood, mother of Thomas Hazelwood.
Tracey says that for her son Thomas, known to friends as ‘Lofton,’ the hazing process began the day that he received his bid card for the Farmhouse fraternity.
“On October 18th 2021, five weeks into pledging, Lofton passed away,” said Tracey.
At 4:00 that afternoon, Tracey says Lofton arrived at Farmhouse sober and ready to participate in a tradition of serenading the sororities on campus. By 4:50, he had about 18 pours of alcohol.
“He was so intoxicated that he could barely walk, and they ended up practically carrying him to a bedroom at the house,” said Tracey. “They laid him on a bed and took Snapchat pictures of him while they messed with his arms and his body.”
Lofton was later found unresponsive. The coroner says he died from alcohol toxicity.
Thursday morning, Representative Jonathan Dixon and Senator Robby Mills introduced an anti-hazing bill named after Thomas ‘Lofton’ Hazelwood, alongside his parents.
“We believe that the activity of hazing is not something that we should turn a blind eye to because it can lead to death, injury, and destruction of Kentucky families and friends,” said Senator Mills.
“Lofton’s Law” would make hazing that results in serious physical injury or death a class-d felony, and reckless participation in hazing a class-a misdemeanor.
“I think if this went into effect, they could get into a lot of trouble for this, and it would change a lot of lives and it would change the aspect around the Greek organizations,” said Preston Hazelwood, Lofton’s sister.
Lofton’s parents want other parents to educate themselves on hazing as well.
“The parents have to get involved and check these fraternities out,” said Kirk Hazelwood, Lofton’s father. “You need to just go ask questions. Be there. Talk to the house mother, house dad, whoever. Find out their policies. Talk with them. Be aware of everything. We didn’t know. We had no clue.”
No charges were filed in Hazelwood’s death, and investigations found no evidence of physical coercion or forced drinking. However, UK says the reviews found that Farmhouse chapter members practiced hazing throughout the semester.
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