UK releases findings of investigation into death of Henderson teen on campus

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LEXINGTON, Ky (WEHT) – Officials from the University of Kentucky released on Wednesday their findings of its investigation into the death of Thomas ‘Lofton’ Hazelwood earlier this year.

Officials say that after two investigations they determined there was no evidence of physical coercion of forced drinking on the night of Hazelwood’s death or any criminal wrongdoing directly related to his death. However, investigations yielded findings of several violations of university policy and the code of student conduct including hazing; underage drinking and misuse of alcohol; and failure to follow UK’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.

Officers were called to a report of an unresponsive person at the FarmHouse Fraternity around 6:20 p.m. in October. Officials say that Hazelwood was pronounced dead at a hospital later that day, he was 18. The report says that fraudulent identification cards were purchased by members of the fraternity. Hazelwood’s blood alcohol concentration was 0.354, nearly 4.5 times the limit for an adult of legal drinking age.

The national FarmHouse Chapter has revoked the charter of the FarmHouse chapter at UK and has issued a no-contact ruling for seven years. Former members are moving out of the fraternity house. Officials say individual students could be charged with violations of UK’s code of student conduct, and will go through the institution’s review and hearing process.

Attorney Matt Minner of Lexington and his law firm released the following statement on behalf of the family of Lofton Hazelwood:

The tragic reality in fraternity houses across the country is that young people do not appreciate the dangers of alcohol and hazing. First-year College students are the single most at-risk group susceptible to alcohol-related injuries or death. On October 18, 2021, Lofton Hazelwood became the latest victim of fraternity-sponsored alcohol consumption and hazing. Lofton was young, impressionable, and trying to live up to a long-standing FarmHouse fraternity tradition of pledges drinking Wild Turkey at the frat house before being required to go sing on the front steps of the campus housing of female students. Even after Lofton was in distress, he was left in a fraternity house room alone and with no attempts to get medical assistance. At the same time, the other pledges were taken to sing at sorority houses on campus.  The Hazelwood family’s attorney, Matt Minner, said that “they were heartbroken to learn, through the University of Kentucky’s investigation, that Lofton was subjected to humiliating and dangerous hazing activities at FarmHouse from the time he pledged until the day he died.”  The University’s investigation into the FarmHouse fraternity following Lofton’s death resulted in numerous hazing and alcohol-related violations.

“While the investigation is ongoing, one fact is clear: had Lofton Hazelwood not pledged FarmHouse Fraternity, he would still be here today,” said Minner. The Hazelwood family is determined to ensure that this tragedy is not repeated to someone else’s son in another fraternity house.  While young people may not fully appreciate the dangers of alcohol, national organizations such as FarmHouse Fraternity know well the deadly consequences that accompany hazing and alcohol.  Lofton loved farming and the outdoors. He was the baby brother to 3 sisters, all of whom attended U of K.  The community lost a boy they adored.  Minner asks that the media and public respect Hazelwood’s privacy during the Holidays as they grieve and lean on one another to heal. 

Statement from Attorney Matt Minner and his law firm

The findings can be read in the document below:

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