Crime & Courts

Uber responds to killing of USC student Samantha Josephson

Uber has responded to the killing of a University of South Carolina student, who was abducted from the Five Points area after getting into a car she thought was the ride she ordered on the ride-sharing app.

“Since 2017, we’ve been working with local law enforcement and college campuses across the country to educate the public about how to avoid fake rideshare drivers,” an Uber spokesperson said in an email to The State. “Everyone at Uber is devastated to hear about this unspeakable crime, and our hearts are with Samantha Josephson’s family and loved ones. We remain focused on raising public awareness about this incredibly important issue.”

Josephson, 21, was found dead Friday afternoon in Clarendon County after being abducted hours earlier when she mistakenly got into a car outside a Five Points bar, believing it was an Uber she had ordered, police have said. Though the man charged in her killing, 24-year-old Nathaniel Rowland, was not a driver for Uber or Lyft, Josephson’s killing has prompted calls from her parents, students and lawmakers for enhanced procedures to make ride-sharing apps safer for users.

USC President Harris Pastides urged students to make sure the ride that arrives to pick them up matches the information provided in the app, and to ask the driver “What’s my name?” when being picked up.

Josephson’s father, Seymour Josephson, said at a vigil for his daughter Sunday night that he wants to put pressure on ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft to enhance their safety measures. A Democratic state lawmaker plans to file a bill Tuesday that would require apps like Lyft and Uber to display illuminated stickers on their windshields to make it easier for riders to identify vehicles driving for the service.

Teddy Kulmala covers breaking news for The State and covered crime and courts for seven years in Columbia, Rock Hill, Aiken and Lumberton, N.C. He graduated from Clemson University and grew up in Barnwell County.