Alcohol Poisoning: Death of Lofton Hazelwood Prompts Universities To Suspend Fraternity Activities

Photo: (Photo : Michael Jarmalouk/Pixabay)

State universities in Kentucky and Missouri have suspended all fraternity activities following the death of 18-year-old student Thomas "Lofton" Hazelwood due to suspected alcohol poisoning.

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto sent an email to the student body about the indefinite suspension. He also stated plans to implement training and education to raise awareness on critical issues like "hazing, alcohol use and bystander intervention" among fraternities. 

School officials at the University of Missouri, on the other hand, also called for a similar suspension after an unresponsive freshman was transported to the hospital for alcohol poisoning. Witnesses said that several students who attended a frat party drank "significant amounts of alcohol."

Both schools investigate the incidents while the police are filing criminal charges against those held accountable for breaking the law. 

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What Happened to Lofton Hazelwood?

The spokesperson for the University of Kentucky, Jay Blanton, said that foul play had not been considered in Hazelwood's death. He was brought to the school's Healthcare Chandler Hospital and was pronounced dead in the early evening of October 18.

Initial reports stated that his death was presumed as alcohol poisoning and was listed as an "accident." However, further investigations are still underway with the school officials, indicating that they will release the findings to the public while protecting the privacy of the students who may be involved.

Hazelwood, the youngest of four siblings, was a freshman taking up agricultural economics. He was a new member of the FarmHouse Fraternity, founded in 1905 at the University of Missouri and has around 48 chapters across the U.S. and Canada. The fraternity became active at the University of Kentucky in 1951. In a statement, FarmHouse leaders said that they were saddened to learn of Hazelwood's death and encouraged the members to cooperate with the investigations.

In Greek life culture among college campuses, alcohol-related incidents are increasingly common. Part of the hazing ritual for new members includes forced food or alcohol consumption.

Meanwhile, the frat party at the University of Missouri was unrelated to the FarmHouse incident, and it involved members of the Phi Gamma Delta house. Greek leaders across the school agreed to abide by the suspension and cooperate with the investigations. The fraternity also said that they would review and make changes, if needed, to the organization's activities to ensure the safety of its members.

What is Alcohol Poisoning?

According to the Mayo Clinic, alcohol poisoning happens when a person drinks too much alcohol too quickly, making it harder for the body to process the substance. Initial signs of alcohol poisoning include irregular breathing, vomiting, confusion, pale skin, hypothermia, and passing out.

A person suffering from alcohol poisoning will be unconscious, and at risk of dying, so it should be treated as an emergency case. Experts said that even if a person has stopped drinking after a binge, alcohol will still be released into the body and bloodstream. The outcome could increase heart rate and body temperature, breathing problems, gag reflex, coma, and even death.

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