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Sister of freshman who died after drinking 18 shots urges people to consider the dangers of hazing

Sister of freshman who died after drinking 18 shots urges people to consider the dangers of hazing

Lofton Hazelwood's sister hopes to 'get the word out' about the dangers of 'hazing' to bring it to an end

The sister of University of Kentucky freshman Lofton Hazelwood has spoken out about the dangers of 'hazing'.

On 18 October 2021, a freshman student at the University of Kentucky named Lofton Hazelwood was found unresponsive in a room in the FarmHouse Chapter frat house.

The 18-year-old was rushed to hospital, however, he sadly passed away, a coroner resolving his death was an accident, with alcohol poisoning a 'significant contributing factor'.

Lofton isn't the only freshman student to been involved in an incident where there was excessive alcohol consumption in recent years.

A student named Danny Santulli was left blind and unable to walk or talk after being pressured to drink a full bottle of vodka - an act known as 'hazing'.

Hazing is an unofficial initiation ceremony which typically takes place in college fraternities and sororities, seeing people 'following wilful acts' or acts taking place 'without the consent of the individual involved'.

It can lead to a person being physically injured, or 'knowingly and recklessly' put 'an unreasonable risk of physical harm or to severe mental or emotional harm'.

This event includes 'forced consumption of any substance; placing an individual in physical danger,' Garret's Law states, as quoted by the University of Michigan - including the consumption of dangerous quantities of alcohol.

Lofton's blood alcohol concentration was 'almost four-and-a-half times over the legal limit' according to the coroner and he had Adderall in his system too, Spectrum News 1 reports.

The freshman was said to have drank 18 shots of Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon before he died, according to Lex18.

However, the University of Kentucky reports investigations into Lofton's passing found 'no evidence of physical coercion or forced drinking associated with Hazlewood’s death'.

One of Lofton's older sisters has spoken out about his death (Facebook/ Preston Hazelwood)
One of Lofton's older sisters has spoken out about his death (Facebook/ Preston Hazelwood)

It added: "However, the reviews found that FarmHouse Chapter members practiced hazing throughout the semester, creating a culture of non-compliance in which such activities were accepted.

"There is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing directly related to Hazelwood’s death, based on the findings of the institution’s investigations to date."

Although, it noted 'outside the context of the specific incident' the investigations did find 'several violations' of the university's policy including underage drinking, misuse of alcohol and hazing.

44 out of 50 states have anti-hazing laws in place according to StopHazing, however, STF B&C Law notes 'only 10 states have laws that explicitly make hazing a felony when it results in death or serious injury'.

Lofton's family campaigned to change this for the state of Kentucky and his older sister Preston has since opened up about his passing and urged more people to discuss the dangers of 'hazing'.

Lofton's family campaigned for 'Lofton's Law' (Facebook/ Lofton's Law)
Lofton's family campaigned for 'Lofton's Law' (Facebook/ Lofton's Law)

In an interview with the US Sun, Preston said Lofton had been 'really excited' to go to university and the family 'never dreamed of what would happen'.

She said: "You always hear about hazing kind of behind a closed door, but you don't really realize what all does go on, because it's very, very hush-hush."

Preston says Lofton told their mom on the day of his death he was being 'made' and 'forced' to drink and also 'had to take tests and do these scavenger hunts'.

Lofton's family has since successfully campaigned and got Lofton's Law passed, meaning students can't use their efforts to get consent from participants as a defense in court and by increasing the penalty for hazing that results in physical harm or death to a Class D felony.

Preston resolved: "Hopefully it will protect the lives of others, so nobody has to go through what our family has had to go through.

"I feel everyone needs to take the small step to tackle it in their own individual states.

"There are people that go around to college campuses and advocate about stopping hazing, which is really good."

She hopes others will 'get the word out about the dangers' and more organizations will visit college campuses and hopefully hazing can be put to a 'stop' for good.

A spokesperson from the University of Kentucky told UNILAD: "On October 18, 2021, our community suffered a heartbreaking loss. One of our students — a life filled with promise and potential — was taken from us. Since then, we cannot imagine the depths of anguish Lofton’s family has faced. And we know that no amount of time will dull the pain of a life ended far too soon. It’s difficult to see a silver lining in moments of tragedy, but criminalizing hazing is a step in the right direction. There is, and there will be, more work to do.

"We support the goal of doing everything possible to eliminate hazing and protect the safety, health and well-being of our students. We remain vigilant in preventing hazing and have taken a number of concrete steps, including requiring enhanced alcohol education and bystander intervention training for fraternity members."

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence, contact The Compassionate Friends on (877) 969-0010.

Featured Image Credit: ABC/GMA//Preston Hazelwood

Topics: Food and Drink, Health, Mental Health, US News