Parents of S.C. Student Killed After Getting into Wrong Car Want to Improve Uber, Lyft Safety
Marci and Seymour Josephson plan to launch new ride-sharing safety initiatives in daughter Samantha Josephson's name
Less than one month after the vicious murder of a University of South Carolina college senior who got into a car she mistakenly believed was an Uber, the young woman’s parents are speaking out about their ordeal — and their fight to improve ride-sharing safety.
Appearing on Monday’s People Now, Seymour and Marci Josephson spoke out about their beloved daughter, Samantha Josephson, and the safety initiatives they are launching in her name.
“She was caring, kind. Everyone thought she was their best friend,” Marci recalled of her daughter.
Since their 21-year-old daughter’s death, the Josephsons are working to promote new initiatives that could prevent a similar tragedy from occurring again.
“There are 19 states that do not have a front license plate,” Seymour notes. (South Carolina is one of those states.) “If you’re going to be an Uber or Lyft [driver], make front license plates a mandate.”
Using the hashtag #WhatsMyName, the grieving parents are also pushing for riders to always ask drivers who they’re waiting for — instead of giving their names to the driver upfront. The importance of this was also stated by automotive expert Lauren Fix, whom PEOPLE interviewed after Josephson’s killing.
“Never ask, ‘Are you my ride?,’” Fix told PEOPLE. “When I approach an Uber or a Lyft, I will stand next to the driver’s window, and I will ask them, ‘Who are you waiting for?’” (Fix also recommends looking at your driver’s photo in the app before they arrive, and always waiting for your ride indoors.)
The Josephsons are also pushing for ride-share vehicles to install a QR code system, in which a bar code would be placed on the front window and a rider could use the app to scan the code and determine if it’s the car he or she requested.
Seymour explains: “I can scan my phone, and it turns green if it’s my ride and it turns red if it’s not.”
The South Carolina House of Representatives has already passed a bill requiring ride-share vehicles to display an illuminated sign clearly bearing their company’s logo. This simple first step should make it easier for riders to identify their vehicles, lawmakers hope.
The bill, known as the Samantha L. Josephson Ridesharing Safety Act, recently passed by a vote of 99-1 and was co-sponsored by Rep. Micah Caskey and Rep. Seth Rose. Next, the bill will move to the Senate.
In the early-morning hours of March 29, Josephson, a 21-year-old senior at the University of South Carolina, requested an Uber after becoming separated from her friends at a Columbia bar. Surveillance video footage showed Josephson talking on her phone as she got into the backseat of the Chevrolet Impala she mistakenly believed was her ride-share.
The young woman’s boyfriend, Greg Corbishley, revealed to local station WGHP he was tracking her phone to make sure she was safe, and said he “immediately knew that there was something that was wrong.”
“Unfortunately, I was two and a half hours away,” he said. “I’d do anything to go back.”
Hunters found Josephson’s slain body in the woods the following day, about 70 miles southeast of the Five Points area where she’d gone missing. She died of multiple sharp force injuries.
Nathaniel Rowland, 24, was subsequently arrested and charged with murder and kidnapping.
The New York Times previously reported that he has pleaded not guilty. PEOPLE was unable to determine who his lawyer was, and calls to the Attorney General’s office were not immediately returned.