University of South Carolina awards posthumous degree to Samantha Josephson, who died after getting into wrong car

An empty seat at the graduation ceremony was draped with a cap and gown.

May 12, 2019, 11:59 AM

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.

Mourners depart after funeral services for Samantha Josephson at at Congregation Beth Chaim in West Windsor, N.J., on Wednesday, April 3, 2019.
Ed Murray/NJ Advance Media via AP

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, according to ABC Charlotte, North Carolina, affiliate WSOC. 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.

Samantha Josephson is pictured in this undated photo released by Columbia Police Department.
Columbia Police Department

Last month, Josephson's parents appeared on "Good Morning America," urging 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.