Thomas “Lofton” Hazelwood (Photo provided by Tracey Hazelwood)
FRANKFORT — An anti-hazing bill is one step closer to becoming law in Kentucky after a 15-1 vote by the House Judiciary Committee.
Known as Lofton’s Law, Senate Bill 9, was introduced after the death of 18-year-old Thomas “Lofton” Hazelwood, a University of Kentucky freshman who was found unconscious in Farmhouse Fraternity after drinking approximately 18 shots of bourbon. He later died of alcohol poisoning.
Although an investigation by UK found that Hazelwood’s death was not directly related to hazing, his story reflected an issue that plagues universities across the state.
“For far too long, hazing has been this awkward rite of passage in Kentucky that many still refuse to acknowledge was wrong,” Sen. Robby Mills, the bill’s sponsor, told the House committee Wednesday. “We believe the elevation of hazing to a crime addresses head-on the seriousness of these actions.”
Tracey and Kirk Hazelwood, Lofton’s parents, attended Wednesday’s committee meeting. Chairman Daniel Elliot, R-Danville, applauded their “persistence and work,” on advancing the bill.
“We’re really excited,” Tracey Hazelwood said in a phone interview earlier Wednesday. “I’m going to be one heartbroken momma if it doesn’t pass.”
The bill passed the Senate on Feb. 23. If Lofton’s Law passes on the House floor, Kentucky would be the 14th state to classify hazing as a felony.
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