UK’s Alpha Tau Omega suspended; investigation ongoing into pledge’s car crash on Saturday


Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Rick Childress

In a campus-wide email sent Tuesday afternoon, UK President Eli Capilouto announced that UK’s Alpha Tau Omega fraternity chapter was suspended on an interim basis.

Jacob Heil, a UK freshman and Alpha Tau Omega pledge, was arrested Saturday after being identified as the driver of the silver car that struck 4-year-old Marco Shemwell. Heil was arrested and charged with DUI.

As part of UK’s investigation into the incident the email announced that the fraternity would be suspended. All fraternity activities must cease, but members may remain in the house. 

A Lexington Herald-Leader report stated that the fraternity collected money from its members for an off-campus tailgate at 240 Waller Avenue, a letter UK officials sent to ATO Monday stated.

Every new pledge was present at the tailgate and were forced to serve alcohol to other people present, the letter stated. 

A university employee has been moved into the house, and UK officials are working with the fraternity’s national chapter on an investigation into the incident. 

Shemwell was rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, and passed away on Monday afternoon, UK announced. 

Heil told police that he had had two beers at a tailgate hours before the incident took place, court records show. Police at the scene determined that he had a 0.051 blood-alcohol level and showed “signs of impairment” when he was arrested.

Heil was reportedly driving in an area with heavy pedestrian traffic when he struck Shemwell, court documents show.

Capilouto’s email also added that Provost Dave Blackwell met with student leaders of UK’s Greek Life organizations and Student Government Association President Michael Hamilton.

Their discussion centered partly on encouraging students to attend the Student Gameday Zone, which was created earlier this year to help the university enforce its alcohol policy and create a student-specific tailgate zone that is inclusive.