In Brief – Ride Sharing Safety

Written By Dara Collins, Editor-Elect

Nearly two weeks ago, on March 29, University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson mistakenly entered a vehicle she thought to be her Uber outside of a bar.

The 21-year-old was last seen alive around 2 a.m. when she called an Uber and got into a black Chevy Impala. Josephson was separated from her roommates earlier in the night, and they grew worried the next morning and called Columbia police to report Josephson missing that afternoon.

Hunters found Josephson’s body in a field in Clarendon County roughly 14 hours after leaving in the faux Uber. Police say she died from multiple sharp force injuries to her head, neck, face, upper body, leg and foot.

Police found a black Chevy Impala early Saturday morning and pulled the car over, but 24-year-old Nathaniel David Rowland got out and ran. The officer chased and caught Rowland, taking him into custody.

Josephson’s blood was found in Rowland’s vehicle in addition to child proof locks on the back-seat doors, Josephson’s cell phone, wipes and bleach. Rowland was charged with the kidnapping and murder of Josephson.

The murder of Samantha Josephson has sparked a discussion across the country on ride-share safety, and this includes the university’s Downtown Pittsburgh campus as a ride-share hub.

Uber’s official website lists 10 tips for rider safety including plan ahead, request your ride inside, get in the right car, be a backseat rider, buckle up, share your trip details with a friend, protect your personal information, follow your intuition, be kind and respectful and give feedback on your trip.

Point Park Chief of Police Jeffrey Besong sent an email mirroring many of these tips to students on April 2, and the email explains safety tips students should follow in light of the “heightened focus and concern.”

“Ask the driver, ‘Who are you waiting for?’” Besong’s numerically listed email read. “Look at the driver’s photo on the app and compare, match license plate number of car with app, wait for your ride indoors, don’t reveal person details, ride in the backseat, share trip details with a friend, and rate your driver.”

Besong also urged students to trust their intuition, and if the situation does not feel right, call 911 or 412-392-3960 if on campus.