USC student who thought car was Uber awarded posthumous degree

by Kim Boateng Posted on May 12th, 2019

Columbia, South Carolina: Slain University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson, who died after getting into the wrong car, was awarded with a posthumous degree at what would have been her graduation ceremony.

Josephson, 21, died in March after she got into a car she mistakenly thought was an Uber after a night out with friends. After she got into the stranger’s car, the child safety locks were activated, preventing her from escaping, and an autopsy found that she died from multiple sharp force injuries, authorities said.

Josephson’s parents were in attendance Saturday at the commencement ceremony at the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, where an empty seat was draped with a cap and gown in Josephson’s honor. There, University of South Carolina President Harris Pastide presented Josephson with a degree in political science.

During the ceremony, Pastide reminded graduating students of the importance of safety when riding in ride-share cars, leading the audience in a chant of “What’s my name?”

“Asking ‘What’s my name?’ before entering a ride-share vehicle will save lives and must become as automatic to you as putting on your seatbelt when you get behind the wheel,” Pastide said.

Last month, Josephson’s parents called for stricter ride-share safety laws.

“I think it’s just become such a natural or new phenomenon using Uber,” Josephson’s mother, Marci Josephson, told George Stephanopoulos on April 15. “We trust people and you can’t. You have to change the way that the laws are to make it safer because that’s our nature. We automatically assume that we’re safe.”

The man suspected of killing Josephson, Nathaniel Rowland, has been charged with murder and kidnapping. Josephson’s body was found in a wooded area where Rowland recently lived, and her phone was found in his car, police said.

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