LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56/WKYT) – A last-minute prayer vigil was held Tuesday night at UK’s Newman Center. Friends of Thomas Hazelwood, or “Lofton” as they knew him, wanted and needed to come together in their grief.
Hazelwood, an 18-year-old freshman from Henderson, Kentucky, died of presumed alcohol poisoning after being found unresponsive inside the FarmHouse Fraternity house. UK police are now investigating the incident, and it’s not clear if any charges will be filed.
“Earlier this afternoon we had a couple students reach out to see if we could do a prayer service for Lofton. We figured tonight was the best night to do it to bring everyone together,” said Brian Gall, a missionary at UK’s Newman Center.
Gall said those students reached out to ask if they could gather out front for a prayer service. He said it felt really important to give students and friends a place to grieve and remember Lofton together.
Gall also said a majority of the few dozen students there were a part of the Greek life on campus, describing Lofton’s death as a complete shock.
“It was very eye-opening and shocking to the point that people don’t really know how to deal with it. I think this was a great first step in bringing people together,” Gall said.
Gall said the center’s priest, Father Steve, has been with the Hazelwood family all day. They have seven missionaries total who are making themselves available to talk with anyone whenever they need. Their main goal, as Gall described, is to make sure no one feels isolated in their grief right now.
“We had people crying after the rosary. Then our student community at large. Right now I think the hardest part is isolation. So I think bringing people together is helpful for the grieving process,” Gall said.
Gall says their next step is holding a more planned prayer service and mass for Lofton this Thursday starting at 6:00 p.m. All are welcome.