Bill named for NJ woman killed for getting into fake Uber car passes House

By Jonathan D. Salant | NJ Advance Media for

After their daughter Samantha was murdered after getting into a fake Uber car, Marci and Seymour Josephson began lobbying Congress to prevent other parents from living through a similar nightmare.

Their efforts bore fruit Wednesday when the U.S. House, by voice vote, passed legislation requiring that vehicles for ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft be clearly identified before a passenger gets in.

“For over a year — especially given the pain due to the unimaginable loss of their daughter —Seymour and Marci have been heroic, tenacious and extraordinarily persuasive,” said the bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Chris Smith, R-4th Dist., during debate on the House floor.

The bill is known as “Sami’s Law” after Samantha Josephson, a 21-year-old University of South Carolina senior from Robbinsville killed in March 2019 after getting into what she thought was the Uber car she requested.

Police said the driver of the car, who they identified as Nathaniel David Rowland, kidnapped her and then stabbed her to death. He is awaiting trial.

Under the legislation, ride-sharing vehicles must have a digital verification system matching the passenger with the driver.

The legislation also establishes a 15-member advisory council to review safety standards, prohibits the sale of ride-sharing signs for vehicles, and requires the Government Accountability Office to report on incidents of assault by both drivers and passengers and on how well ride-sharing companies investigate the backgrounds of their drivers.

Gov. Phil Murphy last year signed a state law named for Josephson requiring illuminated signs and digital barcodes on ride-sharing vehicles.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, ended Wednesday’s debate by saying, “Nothing will ever totally heal Sami’s parents and friends, but this bill in her name will hopefully prevent there being any future tragedies like her death.”

After the vote, as Smith, wearing a mask, left the House chamber, he went over to DeFazio and gave him an elbow bump.

The measure now goes to the U.S. Senate.