What we know about Lofton Hazelwood, the 18-year-old found dead inside fraternity house

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The University of Kentucky community is searching for answers a day after an 18-year-old freshman died at a fraternity house on the school's Lexington campus.

The student, identified as 18-year-old Thomas "Lofton" Hazelwood, was found dead at the home of the FarmHouse Fraternity on Monday, and he likely died from alcohol poisoning, according to officials.

However, UK President Eli Capilouto and Vice President for Student Success Kirsten Turner said in a message to the campus community that investigations into Hazelwood's death are underway.

In addition, the news of Hazelwood's death has reignited conversations around hazing on college campuses, primarily in Greek life, as well as if alcohol consumption is an issue on the campus.

Here's what we know so far:

Status of investigation into UK student death

"Foul play is not suspected" in the case of Hazelwood's death, UK spokesman Jay Blanton said, "but police are investigating the circumstances of his death."

"The UK Police Department was called to the FarmHouse Fraternity at approximately 6:22 p.m. Monday evening regarding reports of an unresponsive student," Blanton told The Courier Journal in an email. "The student was taken to UK HealthCare's Chandler Hospital. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful and he was pronounced as deceased early (Monday) evening."

An initial report from the Fayette County Coroner's Office said Hazelwood's cause of death, pending further investigation, is "presumed alcohol toxicity." His time of death was listed as 7:06 p.m. Monday, and the manner was listed as an "accident."

Capilouto and Turner also sent the campus community a message Tuesday night about the "tragic loss" of Hazelwood.

"First, two investigations have been launched by the university. UK Police already has begun its investigation and is in the process of interviewing people. UK’s Office of Student Conduct also has begun a review," the message said.

Once complete, the message added, "both of these investigations will be made public including any findings and recommendations, subject to necessary redactions to protect the privacy of students."

"But we will understand better what happened and we will communicate with Lofton’s family and our university family," the message said. "Third, as of today, the University has suspended all activities for the FarmHouse Fraternity while these investigations are ongoing. The focus of the chapter — and of university officials involved in this review — needs to remain fixed on understanding what happened and finding answers."

Who was Lofton Hazelwood?

Henderson native Thomas "Lofton" Hazelwood, 18, was identified by the Fayette County Coroner's Office as the student who died.

Hazelwood was, the Kentucky Kernel reported, a first-year agricultural economics student at UK. In a statement, his fraternity's CEO referred to him as a "new member."

Family members told Lexington media outlets he was the youngest of four siblings and became interested in agriculture after working a summer job on a farm. He was a graduate of Henderson High School, The Gleaner reported, where he played on the golf team.

What is the FarmHouse Fraternity?

The FarmHouse Fraternity is a Greek organization founded by students at the University of Missouri in 1905. It was formed by male students studying agriculture with the objective of "building the Whole Man through four-fold development: Intellectually, Spiritually, Socially/Morally and Physically."

The fraternity has been on UK's campus since 1951, and it's one of 20 "social fraternities" — organizations governed by the school's Interfraternity Council — on the campus.

FarmHouse has 48 total chapters on campuses in the U.S. and Canada.

Is hazing a problem at the University of Kentucky?

The nature of Hazelwood's death has raised questions about whether hazing — the abuse of someone in an organization by other members, often as an initiation — is at play.

Hazing is commonly associated with "Greek life" and has been cited in other cases of alcohol-related deaths on college campuses.

UK's code of conduct defines hazing as "any action or situation created by a member of the University Community against another member of the University Community for the purpose of affiliation with a group or organization that: (a) Is negligent or reckless in nature; (b) Is humiliating or endangers an individual; or (c) Unreasonably interferes with scholastic or employment activities."

The code of conduct cites "forced consumption of food, alcohol, or drugs or other controlled substances" as an example of hazing behavior.

Individuals cited for hazing can face punishment ranging "from a warning to disciplinary expulsion," and organizations may face "suspension or restriction from University property or revocation of Registered Student Organization status."

"Violators of this policy are subject to referral to appropriate law enforcement or University services, as well as to regional and national affiliated offices for groups and organizations, for action or prosecution," UK's code of conduct states.

According to publicly available records, 10 student organizations on UK's campus are currently facing "disciplinary probation" or the "revocation of registered student organization status." All of those groups are accused of either hazing, "misuse of alcohol" and/or "harm and threat of harm."

The FarmHouse Fraternity is not listed as facing any disciplinary penalties.

Is drinking a problem at the University of Kentucky?

Hazelwood's death has also raised questions about alcohol consumption among college students.

According to the school's most recent Clery report — a review of crime statistics and safety efforts federally funded universities are legally required to issue each year — three "liquor law arrests" were made on or in close proximity to UK's main campus in 2020.

Almost 700 "liquor law violations" on or in close proximity to the main campus were "referred for disciplinary action" in 2020, according to the report. That's down from 2019, which saw 822 instances, but up from the 627 reported in 2018.

More fraternities scrutinized across the country

The University of Missouri temporarily suspended all fraternity activities after a freshman was found unresponsive at a frat house early Wednesday.

The student was transported to a hospital due to alcohol poisoning concerns.

The decision comes as more universities across the nation have been scrutinized under allegations of hazing and overconsumption of alcohol in recent years.

In 2017, a University of Missouri fraternity was sued by the family of a freshman student, who claim he was hazed and forced to drink which led to alcohol poisoning, ABC-17 reported. Another fraternity was investigated a year prior over allegations of members using racial slurs.

Contributing: Celina Tebor, USA TODAY; Billy Kobin, Louisville Courier-Journal

Follow Mary Ramsey on Twitter @mcolleen1996.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: University of Kentucky student Lofton Hazelwood dead in frat house

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