TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - A University of South Carolina senior was kidnapped and murdered after getting into a car she thought was an Uber. Investigators say Samantha Josephson died from "multiple sharp-force injuries."
"The child safety locks were activated on the door. That would not have allowed someone the means of escape,” said Columbia, S.C. Police Chief William Holbrook.
Nathaniel Rowland has been arrested for killing the 21-year-old. The tragedy is a heartbreaking reminder for all of us about ridesharing safety.
"Right as I’m pulling up, I’ll roll down my window and I’ll say their name, and then have them repeat my name, so [it's as] simple as that," said Lyft driver Justin Brown.
Bay Area drivers for Uber and Lyft say a car mix-up is easy to make. However, the apps give the person behind the wheel, as well as the person waiting to be picked up, key details that should be used every trip.
"What I try to do every time is verify whoever gets in the car. I have a name and I say ‘Hello, party of Steven’ and then some quip like 'Your table is ready,'” laughed Phil Anderson, a driver for Lyft and Uber. “And very often someone says ‘No, I’m Bill’ and that’s why I tell them, 'Well, we’ve got a conflict here. You're in somebody else’s ride and I’m waiting for someone else.' Every rider needs to do that same thing."
Drivers say not to rely solely on the company decal in the window. Riders will be given the driver's name and a photo, the make, model, and color of the car they're driving, as well as the license plate number. Riders should confirm all of that information and ask the driver who they're supposed to be picking up before getting in the backseat.
"You’re supposed to verify the license plate number, the picture of the driver, and the car model and all that, not just jump in whatever car comes along," Lyft driver Orlando Alsina said.
"You have to use common sense, you say the person's name, they repeat it to you, and it’s that simple,” said Brown. “Wrong person, wrong car, don’t get in, it’s that easy."
Some rideshare apps also have built-in safety tools. During a ride, a shield icon appears in the Uber app letting you share your trip information with friends and family, or easily call 911.