NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The New Orleans Police Department began investigating the circumstances of a 21-year-old’s death over the weekend, but officials are saying it could be weeks or even months before we learn how she died.
According to a spokesman for the department, shortly before 7 a.m. on Saturday, February 19, police arrived at a local hospital and learned Ciaya Whetstone died upon her arrival to the hospital.
Whetstone’s cause of death remains under investigation, the New Orleans Coroner’s Office reported on Monday. The office adds that it could take up to two months to determine Whetstone’s cause of death.
Hours before her death, Whetstone reportedly got an Uber; however, it’s unclear if the college student was taken to the hospital by the Uber driver.
A spokeswoman for Uber says that driver has been barred from the app until the company receives answers from detectives.
University of New Orleans President Dr. John Nicklow released the following statement on Whetstone’s death:
“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. We are offering counseling services to students and employees who need support.”
Some UNO students say they were shocked to hear about a fellow student’s death.
“That really got to me because that’s another privateer,” said Rama, a student at UNO. “Even though I didn’t know her, it’s still the same student who attended my school and everything.”
One student says she already felt trepidatious while doing everyday tasks because of the recent spike in crime.
“Hearing stuff like that, about a fellow student, exacerbates that fear and anxiety of leaving my house,” said UNO junior Amanda Nadeau.
A fellow alumna says she doesn’t go out by herself because of instances like this.
“Hearing things that happened, especially to women nowadays, it’s just scary going anywhere by yourself, so I always have someone with me,” said Maddie Sampay, a junior at UNO.
With Mardi Gras in full swing, one student hopes this serves as a reminder to be cautious.
“While this is a fun time of year for people who come to New Orleans or who live here, it’s also a time to be aware of anything scary that might happen,” said university student Joseph Hughes.
Anyone with additional information about this incident is asked to contact NOPD Homicide Unit detectives at 504-658-5300, or call Crimestoppers of Greater New Orleans anonymously at 504-822-1111.