Family remembers young man lost to alcohol poisoning at Murray St. in 2018

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Posted at 12:27 PM, Oct 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 18:49:48-04

(LEX 18) — Aerika Wardrip didn’t know University of Kentucky student Lofton Hazelwood, but her family has also experienced the grief of alcohol poisoning.

18-year-old Hazelwood died Monday on campus at the FarmHouse Fraternity from suspected alcohol poisoning. Aerika’s little brother Zach died from alcohol poisoning while visiting a friend at Murray State University in 2018. He was 19 years old.

“My brother was loved by so, so many people,” she told LEX 18 Friday. “One mistake, one accident has left a mark on our family for the rest of our lives.”

Zach was Hoosier born and bred in Evansville, Ind., but he loved UK basketball, trucks and his family, and he wanted to become a welder. Aerika describes him as a “good ‘ol country boy.”

“I miss having a complete-feeling family, and Zach really was an anchor in that,” she said.

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In honor of Zach’s life, the Wardrips started a foundation in his name to educate people about the dangers of binge drinking. They also want to bring awareness to lifeline laws, which provide immunity for some alcohol-related offenses when someone calls 911 to get help. Aerika’s home state of Indiana passed its groundbreaking Lifeline Law in 2012, when only a few other states had similar legislation. Almost a decade later, a majority of states have passed some type of medical amnesty law, including Kentucky in 2013.

“When you're in those sketchy situations, and you've made a mistake, and somebody needs help, you're not gonna get in trouble, as long as you're helping someone,” Aerika explained. “If every college student knew about that, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now.”

Most colleges and universities also have medical amnesty policies to protect students from school discipline when they call 911 for help. That includes the University of Kentucky. The student handbook states:

“Amnesty: Student health and safety are of primary concern at UK. Students who seek emergency assistance on behalf of persons experiencing drug or alcohol-related emergencies will not be charged or sanctioned for violations of University drug or alcohol-related policies. UK will grant amnesty to Students who proactively seek medical help for themselves or others where the help-seeking Student may have been involved in underage drinking or other improper use of alcohol or illegal drugs at the time. For example, a Student who has been drinking underage might hesitate to seek help for another Student who is unable to respond due to alcohol or drug use, or who has been the victim of sexual misconduct. Amnesty will not be granted for other policy violations that may have occurred during the incident (e.g. drug distribution, arson, theft, etc.). Amnesty does not prevent any actions that may be taken by any law enforcement agency, including UK Police.”

The Zach Wardrip Foundation has also established a scholarship fund for students in Southern Indiana and Northern Kentucky. This year, they awarded five scholarships of $1,500 each to students pursuing a trade at a vocational school. You can find out more, including how to get involved, at their website.