Ciaya Jordan Whetstone, a 21-year-old Louisiana college student, was found unresponsive at a New Orleans hospital around 4:51 a.m. after she was dropped off by an unknown person during Mardi Gras.
The University of New Orleans student was later pronounced dead around 6 a.m. Police are investigating the strange death and trying to figure out what happened.
According to reports, friends last saw the 21-year-old around 1 a.m. Friday night. She had been out partying with some friends and then got a ride to her boyfriend’s house in Hanrahan. The young woman then took an Uber back to her apartment to check on her dog.
She told her roommate that she would be going with the Uber driver to try and find her car. Her roommate, Reese White, tried to convince her to stay, but Ciaya Jordan Whetstone went with the unknown Uber driver. A friend, Roberto Torres, later called Whetstone around 1:30 a.m. and said he heard the driver ask, “Do you like to party?”
Whetstone promised to call Torres back, but she never did.
No cause of death has yet been revealed, according to the New Orleans Police Department.
What Happened to Ciaya Jordan Whetstone at Mardi Gras?
The hospital reported that Whetstone was dropped off via “private conveyance,” a hospital term used when an ambulance is not involved with the patient’s arrival. It is unknown if the person that dropped Whetstone off was her Uber driver from earlier in the night.
Whetstone’s stepfather, Chris Ferrand, spoke to the New York Post and said that the family is in shock about the university student’s sudden death. He said, “We’ve got a tough few days ahead of us.”
Ciaya Jordan Whetstone was originally from Bamberg, S.C. She was a business administration major at the University of New Orleans and expected to graduate in 2023.
The University of New Orleans released a statement after the young woman’s death. University President John Nicklow said, “As a university, few things are more challenging than dealing with the sadness of the death of a student. Our thoughts are with Ciaya’s family and friends.”
Counselors are being offered to all students and employees affected by Ciaya Jordan Whetstone’s death.
Campus Mourns Student
Dawn Gegenheimer, Whetstone’s co-worker, and the person who identified her body, posted a touching tribute to the young college student on her Facebook page. She also warned others about the dangers of being out alone.
She said, “My heart is broken. Do you see this beautiful young 21yr old woman? She was from South Carolina; she was down here to pursue her education. She was my peer at work. She was my newest yoga partner at the gym. She was my friend, and I was her therapist, (well, sort of; that’s what she always called me.) She laughed at just about everything that came out of my mouth every time we were around each other. She had the cutest East Coast accent you ever heard. She had the sweetest personality; always saw the best in everyone and the bright side of every situation.”
Emily Carter, her cousin, said the 21-year-old “was like this bright light in a dark place. She was always happy. She never met a stranger. That girl was so brave. If there was something that she wanted, she would go get it. I mean, she moved by herself from little swamp to New Orleans. It makes me feel happy to know how loved she was, and it makes me happy to know that she impacted people so greatly,” she added.
Other University of New Orleans students said that Whetstone’s death makes them worried about their own safety in the city. New Orleans has seen a spike of crime and junior Maddie Sampay said that she is always careful about being out in the city alone.
She said, “Hearing things that happened, especially to women nowadays, it’s just scary going anywhere by yourself, so I always have someone with me.”
Anyone with additional information about Ciaya Jordan Whetstone’s death are asked to contact NOPD Homicide Unit detectives at 504-658-5300, or call Crimestoppers of Greater New Orleans anonymously at 504-822-1111.