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Seeking answers, comfort through faith

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Posted at 5:42 PM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 17:42:16-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — University of Kentucky Police and the UK Office of Student Conduct continue investigating the death of freshman Thomas "Lofton" Hazelwood.

The 18-year-old was found unresponsive at the Farmhouse fraternity on Monday and died at the hospital.

The coroner listed his cause of death as presumed alcohol toxicity.

The university has suspended all activities for the fraternity while the investigations continue.

Father Steve Roberts never had the chance to meet Lofton Hazelwood before the young man died. But the priest visited the family in the hours after his death and blessed the body.

"The mother described him as an old soul. Someone that just people loved to be around. A very strong family person," said Fr. Roberts.

Less than 24 hours after the blessing of Lofton's body, his campus community gathered after dark to pray outside the Catholic Newman Center Tuesday night.

In the light of day on Wednesday, UK senior Simon Sutton returned with his rosary.

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"I really feel like leaning back on your faith at this time is really important," said Sutton.

Sutton is from Henderson, the same town as Hazelwood. He says the two went to the same grade school.

"He was a really joyful kid. For a long time, he played soccer. Just really had a bright future ahead of him. He was a really great guy," said Sutton.

Sutton is also a senior at a UK fraternity. It's a brotherhood that he values.

"Just a lot of emotions happening, ranging from sadness to a little anger I guess, with the whole situation," said Sutton.

As he continues to process how and why his childhood friend died, he's turning to his faith for comfort, guidance, and the hope that Lofton's death is a wake-up call for his brothers and sisters on campus to protect each other.

"In a way, a lot that needs to be done, in terms of the culture that is being put on here with fraternities. It should have never taken place like this, nothing like this should have ever happened," said Sutton.

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"Answer some of these big questions that come up even though there are no good answers. But maybe to put it in a religious context of hope and faith," said Fr. Roberts.

There will be a prayer service in memory of Hazelwood at the Newman Center on Thursday at 6 pm, followed by a memorial mass.