Police in New Orleans are trying to solve the mystery of what happened to a 21-year-old college student who died shortly after being dumped at a hospital, six hours after taking an Uber alone.
Ciaya Jordan Whetstone, a business administration junior at University of New Orleans, was brought to New Orleans hospital at 7am on Saturday and was pronounced dead an hour later.
Her cause of death is still unclear at this time.
Whetstone, who was set to graduate in 2023, had traveled to suburb of Metairie with a friend, Juliet Orr, on Friday to attend a pre-Mardi Gras Carnival parade on Friday night, reported Nola.com.
Ciaya Jordan Whetstone, 21, a business administration junior at University of New Orleans, was brought to a local hospital early Saturday and later died from an unknown cause
Whetstone, a recent transplant from South Carolina, on Friday night attended her first Mardi Gras parade in a New Orleans suburb
Whetstone, from Bamberg, South Carolina, later joined some other friends at a bar, before being driven to her boyfriend’s home in Harahan.
But Orr said that in the middle of the night, Whetstone decided to call an Uber to take her to her apartment in Gentilly to check on her dog, Zoe.
Whetstone arrived at her apartment on Lakeshore Drive and went to check on her dog. Her roommate, Reese White, told WWL that the ride-share driver entered the home with her.
‘She said, “This is my friend, Reese. I just met him.” I said, “You need to stop getting in the car with strangers,” but she said he was her Uber driver,’ White told the outlet.
Speaking to Nola.com, White said that Whetstone appeared drunk, and that she tried to convince her to stay home, but the UNO student insisted that the Uber driver was ‘her friend,’ and that she needed to go find her car.
When Whetstone returned to the Uber car at around 1.30am on Saturday, she got a call on her cellphone from her friend Roberto Torres.
Torres said that is when he heard the Uber driver in the background ask Whetstone if she liked to ‘party.’
After Whetstone hung up, Torres said he made several attempts to call her number, but she did not pick up.
Friends say Whetstone had watched Carnival parades in Metairie on Friday, then went to a bar with friends and later headed to her boyfriend’s home. In the middle of the night, Whetstone called an Uber to take her to her apartment in another neighborhood to check on her dog
A friend called Whetstone while she was in the ride-share car and said he overheard the Uber driver ask the UNO student: ‘do you like to party?’
Less than six hours later, Whetstone was brought to the hospital in a private vehicle, but police would not say whether it was the Uber from the night before.
Dawn Gegenheimer, Whetstone’s co-worker and friend, however, claimed in a Facebook post that it was the ride-share driver who took the 21-year-old to University Hospital and left her there.
‘My beautiful friend is dead, because she got in an Uber last night,’ Gegenheimer wrote.
A spokesperson for Uber said the company has temporarily disabled the access of the driver who was last seen with Whetstone to the ride-share app pending the outcome of the investigation.
They declined to share his name.
‘Our thoughts are with Ciaya Whetstone’s family as they grieve the loss of their daughter,’ the company said. ‘We stand ready to assist law enforcement with their investigation.’
University of New Orleans President John Nicklow confirmed Whetstone’s death in a statement.
Whetstone (far left), pictured with several friends, including Elizabeth Nichole Saitz (2nd Left), was set to graduate from college next year
Whetstone (2nd Left) was described by those who knew her as a bright and hopeful person
Friend Mali Jordan (left) described Whetstone as a ‘sweet angel.’ The 21-year-old leaves behind her mother, stepfather and a younger brother
‘As a University, few things are more challenging than dealing with the sadness of the death of a student,’ he stated. ‘Our thoughts are with Ciaya’s family and friends.’
Chris Ferrand, Whetstone’s stepfather, declined to comment on the investigation into Ciaya’s death, telling DailyMail.com on Tuesday that he will wait on an official police report and coroner’s report before making any statements.
‘Right now my concern is getting Ciaya home so we can lay our angel to rest,’ he added.
Other loved ones remembered Whetstone as a bright, hopeful and uplifting person.
‘She was like this bright light in a dark place. She was always happy. She never met a stranger,’ her cousin Emily Carter told WISTV.
‘My heart is torn to pieces,’ friend Mali Jordan wrote on Facebook. ‘Heaven gained one awesome Sweet angel! You will always have a special place in my heart Ciaya Whetstone!’
Elizabeth Nichole Saitz, who said that Whetstone was like a sister to her, struggled to understand what happened.
‘I still can’t even believe it’s real,’ Saitz wrote in a Facebook tribute. ‘You lit up every room you ever walked into and had such a big impact on so many peoples lives. We may not have been blood but like you said, no matter what, we are sisters for life. My heart is so broken and I wish I could hug your neck a million times more.’
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk