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Death of USC student sheds light on ride-share safety

NBC Charlotte learned there are simple things you can do that could save your life.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The death of Samantha Josephson, a student at the University of South Carolina, is shedding light on ride-share safety.

The 21-year-old mistook the wrong car for her Uber ride, police said. Nathaniel David Rowland, 24, was charged with murder and kidnapping in the case.

In North Carolina, Uber and Lyft drivers are required to have decals right on the front window to clearly identify the car. NBC Charlotte learned some other simple things you can do that could save your life.

At Sunday's vigil for Josephson, her father begged her classmates to be careful.

"Samantha was by herself; she has absolutely no chance, none," he said.

Police said what happened to Josephson could happen to anyone.

"It's very easy to happen," said Tim Aycock with Matthews Police.

A surveillance camera captured some of Josephson's final moments outside a Columbia bar on Friday night, waiting for an Uber.

When a black car pulled up, she thought it was her ride and got in. That decision, police said, cost her life. Her body was dumped in a South Carolina field.

Those who use ride-share admit they're not as careful as they should be.

"Especially after hearing the story, it is so sad, I can't believe that happened," one woman told us. "I feel like a lot of people don't even think about it. They're like, oh my Uber's here, I'm just gonna get in."

Police said you should always check two important details -- the driver and the car.

"Do your research about who's coming to pick you up," Aycock said.

Both Uber and Lyft will give you the driver's name and their photo.

"Make sure the picture matches," said Aycock.

You will also receive the car make and model plus the license plate number.

"You can just take a few steps more and look at the back," Aycock said.

Josephson's father issued a call for added safety measures from ride-share companies. He also pleaded and to riders themselves.. saying if you go out together, you leave together.

"If there's somebody else in the car, there's actually a chance," he said. "I don't want anybody else to ever go through this again."

The driver will have your information as well, so wait for the person behind the wheel to say your name before you get in.

When your ride starts, share it so a friend or family member can track you.

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