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Mother of New Orleans college student who died after taking Uber pleads for answers

Ciaya Whetstone, 21, arrived at the hospital just before 7 a.m. on Feb. 19 “via a private conveyance.” She was pronounced dead a short time later.

The mother of a New Orleans college student who died shortly after she was dropped off at a hospital is begging for people to "please come forward and tell the truth."

Miranda Ferrand, the mother of Ciaya Whetstone, was joined by her attorneys for a news conference Thursday more than a week after the death of the University of New Orleans student.

"I brought her here to graduate, not to come pack her up to bury her," Ferrand said, holding a picture of her daughter. "I am asking anyone that knows anything about what happened to my daughter to please come forward and tell the truth."

Police have released very few details about the case. They said Whetstone, 21, arrived at the hospital just before 7 a.m. on Feb. 19 "via a private conveyance." She was pronounced dead a short time later.

"The incident remains under investigation as an unclassified death,” police said.

Authorities have not said who dropped her off at the hospital.

Her friends told The Times-Picayune that hours before her death she had attended the Carnival parades in Metairie and then went to a few bars. Another friend later brought her back to her boyfriend's house, according to the newspaper.

Early on Feb. 19, Whetstone caught an Uber ride to her apartment so she could check on her dog, the newspaper reported. Her roommate said the Uber driver waited outside because Whetstone said she wanted to go "and find her car."

The roommate, Reese White, said she tried to convince Whetstone not to go.

Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday. Uber previously said the driver’s account has been deactivated, a standard procedure, and they launched their own investigation.

Ciaya Whetstone.
Ciaya Whetstone. Ciaya Whetstone via Facebook

In an updated statement Thursday, the ride-share company said Whetstone's trip ended without incident at the requested destination but did not elaborate further. It also said that it has released all requested information to law enforcement, who is responsible for communicating with the family.

"No parent should have to suffer the loss of a child, and our thoughts continue to be with Ciaya’s family," a spokesperson said. "We understand the frustration of not having answers. We are seeking answers too, which is why we proactively reached out to law enforcement to offer assistance in their investigation as soon as we were made aware of Ciaya’s tragic death. We remain ready and willing to assist law enforcement in any way we can in their ongoing investigation. We have policies in place prohibiting post-trip contact and have removed the driver’s access to the app."  

Ferrand said she is not going to stop demanding answers.

“She was a great person,” Ferrand said about her daughter. “She is a precious angel, and I will not rest. Every morning I wake up and she’s not here, I’m going to be here and I’m not going to stop until I figure out what happened to my daughter.”

L. Chris Stewart, her lawyer, called on authorities to release information “or you’ll see a lawsuit by next week.”

“We aren’t asking any more for answers. We are demanding answers on what happened to their daughter. We need a cause of death,” he said.