Ryen Cinski ‘22
At 2:00 a.m. on March 29, 2019, USC student Samantha Josephson got into a car that she believed to be her Uber. 14 hours and 90 miles later, her body was discovered in a field. Samantha died due to the many sharp force injuries that she sustained, injuries that covered various parts of her body.
After being separated from her roommates at a bar, Samantha decided to use the transportation service UBER for a ride home. When a black car showed up, Samantha believed it to be her UBER, and entered the car alone. Inside the car was Nathaniel David Rowland, a man who pretended to be her driver so that he could prey on her and subsequently kill her. This unbelievably tragic event shines light on the danger of services like UBER and LYFT. Although this is an isolated event and one that has not been very common in the history of both services, it is something that is always possible. When we were children, we were told not to enter the vehicles of strangers, yet in current times, we do this on a day to day basis.
Samantha Josephson was a normal college student just like you and I and she made a mistake that cost her her life. I have UBERed alone numerous times and have walked home from parties alone. Although this is something that college students are frequently advised not to do, it’s just something that happens. When you’re at a party and none of your friends want to leave but you’re dying to go to bed, walking back by yourself seems desirable. When you’re at an off-campus location and you lose your friends but just really want to get back, it seems like a good idea to call an UBER for yourself. Though, walking on or off campus alone is dangerous and getting in a stranger’s car is too, even if you think the app wouldn’t allow you to ever be in danger.
Although no one deserves to be harmed due to their actions, people still need to be making safe decisions, myself included. In no way shape or form did Samantha deserve the fate that she was given, but her being alone made her much more vulnerable. If she had been with friends, it’s possible that she could’ve survived. As a college student and as a young adult, it is important to remember that you should never, ever go places alone at night. You should always make sure to have a friend with you or to go places with a group. The world is a dangerous place and sometimes innocent people are harmed; therefore, it is always smart to take protective measures.
In addition to not being alone in general, it is important that you always identify that the car you’re entering is your UBER. You can do this by making sure that the car is the same make and model as the app says, and by matching the given license plate to that of the one on the car. When you enter someone’s car as a passenger, you are under their control as it can be hard to escape a moving car.
Samantha Josephson’s death was tragic and something that should not have happened. Ride services are increasing in popularity, meaning that more and more people are entering cars with strangers. Although both UBER and Lyft are most likely working to eliminate as much error and possibility of danger as possible, the reality is that bad things are still possible. Therefore, it is extremely important to remember to always go places whether it be on foot or in a car with a friend or a group. It is also important to remember to check details of the car that you are getting into as people do pretend to be UBER / Lyft drivers. Always take as many steps as you can to be safe.