South Carolina

Uber/Lyft signs a good start, but parents of slain USC student say more can be done

Statement read in Richland County Bond Court by Samantha Josephson’s mother

Family members and friends attended a hearing in bond court for Nathaniel David Rowland, who is charged with the murder and kidnapping of Samantha Josephson.
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Family members and friends attended a hearing in bond court for Nathaniel David Rowland, who is charged with the murder and kidnapping of Samantha Josephson.

The parents of Samantha Josephson, the University of South Carolina student who was abducted and killed after getting into what she thought was an Uber, applauded a recent push by S.C. lawmakers to require illuminated signs in rideshare vehicles. But there’s more that can be done, they said during a televised interview Monday. 

Josephson, 21, was abducted from outside a Five Points bar when she got into a car she mistook for an Uber, police have said. Her body was found the next day in Clarendon County, about 70 miles from Columbia. Columbia police have charged 24-year-old Nathaniel Rowland with kidnapping and murder. Rowland was not a driver for Uber or Lyft. 

During an interview Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Seymour and Marci Josephson applauded a proposal passed by the S.C. House that would require Uber and Lyft drivers to display illuminated signs that make them easier to identify. But there are other safety measures they said they would like to see implemented. 


Apps like Uber and Lyft give riders a description of the car that is picking them up, including the tag number. Seymour Josephson noted during the interview that South Carolina is one of a handful of states that don’t require license plates on the fronts of cars. 

“When the car is pulling up, you can’t see the front license plate,” he said on ABC. “I’m not saying to change all the states and make it mandatory, but if you’re going to be in the ride-sharing industry, then you should have a front license plate.”

Seymour Josephson said he also wants to see ride-share services implement QR or bar codes on the windows of vehicles, so riders can scan the code on their phones to determine if that is their ride. 

“You put your phone up to it, it turns green, that’s my ride,” he said during the interview. “If it’s not your ride, it turns red.” 

Marci Josephson said on ABC that she wants ride-share users to continue asking “What’s my name?” before getting into a vehicle they think is their ride, since Uber and Lyft apps tell drivers the name of their fare. That’s the safety advice urged by USC President Harris Pastides, which prompted its own hashtag on Twitter

ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos noted that USC will honor the late student with a posthumous degree at commencement exercises next month. Marci Josephson said she recently was going through text messages she exchanged with her daughter. 

“She had something about us not being able to attend, and she said it was alright if we didn’t attend,” Marci Josephson said. “And we said we wouldn’t miss it for the world.” 

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.