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UK: Freshman wasn't forced to drink, but said fraternity practiced hazing during semester

The Fayette County Coroner's office said Hazelwood had a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.345.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The University of Kentucky (UK) has released its preliminary findings of two investigations into the death of UK freshman Lofton Hazelwood.

Hazelwood, an 18-year-old Henderson County native, was found unresponsive in a fraternity house on the night of Oct. 18.

One investigation was conducted by UK's Office of Student Conduct and another by university police.

"These extensive investigations included nearly 50 interviews, reviews of available video evidence and reviews of hundreds of thousands of messages and exchanges on relevant social media channels and platforms," University President Eli Capilouto said.

The university's findings:

  • No evidence of physical coercion or forced drinking was found. Other new members drank with Hazelwood, with one new member who was present, not drinking at all.
  • Reviews found the FarmHouse fraternity chapter did practice hazing throughout the semester, creating a culture of noncompliance in which such activities were accepted. 
  • There was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing directly related to Hazelwood's death, based on evidence to date.
  • The fraternity members purchased illegal fraudulent IDs.
  • Outside the context of the specific incident, the university found several violations of the university's policy and Code of Conduct, including hazing; underage drinking and misuse of alcohol; and failure to follow UK's COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.

Capilouto said the national chapter of FarmHouse has revoked the local chapter's status and issued a no-contact order, meaning the now former members of the chapter can have no association with FarmHouse for seven years.

UK has also revoked the fraternity's status as a Registered Student Organization for at least four years, and Capilouto said, individual students could be charged with violations of UK's Code of Student Conduct.

All new members of UK's Interfraternity Council must also now complete enhanced and expanded education before activities can be resumed. 

Those activities include peer mentoring and education, alcohol awareness education and bystander intervention education and training. 

The UK Police investigation is not final at this time, a university spokesperson said. Two search warrants for specific social media content involving FarmHouse members have not been returned and may be outstanding for several weeks.

The Fayette County Coroner's confirmed on Dec. 15 that Hazelwood's death was due to alcohol toxicity.

According to the coroner's toxicology report, Hazelwood had a Blood Alcohol Concertation (BAC) of 0.354. The report said he also had amphetamines, specifically Adderall. This is consistent with statements made by witnesses and family that Hazelwood took a prescribed dose of Adderall medication.

UK Police said foul play is not suspected and a university spokesperson said no charges would be filed in his death.

Here's the full 10-page report of the university's findings:

Matt Minner, the Hazelwood family's attorney, said when you mix hazing, alcohol and young college students, the outcome is never good.

"That's a recipe for disaster," Minner said. "Bad things are going to happen, and Loften just happened to be the victim this time. It could have been any other young man."

Minner said the family wants to ensure this type of tragedy doesn't happen to anyone else.

"Here we are at a time when college freshmen are coming home for Christmas, and the Hazelwood family is going to have a huge void and a huge hole," Minner said.

He hinted at the possibility of a lawsuit. 

Hazelwood's Death

October 21, 2021

A prayer service and memorial mass, coordinated with the help of students, was held on UK's campus.

"I just wanted to make sure they were aware they were in thoughts and prayers," Carly Crawford said, who said she's a friend and sorority sister of Hazelwood's older sister -- also a student at UK.  

This came after police records showed liquor laws were violated on the night they found Hazelwood unresponsive. 

According to the school's daily crime log, UKPD found 20 underage people at the fraternity with access to alcohol that same night.

A school spokesperson said because police didn't witness any of them drinking, they didn't write citations. He said those student violations were handed over to the Dean of Student's Office for review.

October 19, 2021

Hazelwood died after being found unresponsive in the FarmHouse fraternity house around 6:22 p.m. the evening prior.

Police said he was a first-year student majoring in Agricultural Economics and member of the FarmHouse fraternity. 

The Fayette County Coroner said the cause of death was believed to be alcohol toxicity and was ruled as accidental.

Tracey Hazelwood, Lofton's mother, told WHAS11 News that he had an old soul and was a good boy.

"Everybody loved him," she said. "Never left any of us without saying love you. Had three older sisters. He was the baby." 

The university announced two investigations: one by the university's police department and the other by UK's office of student conduct.

UK also suspended all activities for the fraternity while the investigations occurred. 

"We also can – and we will – commit to finding out what happened, how it happened and why," the university said. "We have conveyed to Lofton’s family that we will move as quickly as possible, but also transparently and comprehensively. We won’t speculate or engage in conjecture, but we will find out."

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