Co-written by Alex Whipkey and Haley Smith

Uber and Lyft Pose Increasing Dangers to Consumers

With the popularity of public transit systems such as Uber and Lyft, with which just about anybody can become a designated driver, problems were just waiting to arise. While the service may seem like a good idea in theory, concerns ranging from drivers being possible predators to incapacitated passengers being in danger are some of the first things that come to people’s minds when using Uber or Lyft.

There have been multiple accounts of kidnappings, sexual assault, and robbery given since the services became a popular method of safely returning home. However, in 2019, things took a tragic turn.

21-year-old Samantha Josephson, a student at University of South Carolina, was reported to have called an Uber at two in the morning after being separated from her friends. She hopped in a black Chevrolet Impala, mistaking it for her Uber driver, but unfortunately her actual car had not arrived yet. Her body was found the next day by a hunter in a desolate field.

Nathaniel Rowland, 24, has been arrested for Josephson’s kidnap and murder. It was said that Josephson tried to get out of the car when she realized it was not her Uber, however Rowland activated the child locks and she could no longer escape. Before he was apprehended by police, Rowland attempted to run from them and resist arrest.

The death allowed the legislation to be passed that all Uber or Lyft drivers must use company lights in order to clearly identify themselves.

According to the Pew Research Center, a survey shows that 36% of adults use an Uber or Lyft.

Some tips in order to ensure safety when using Uber or Lyft:

  • pay attention to vehicle (make/model, plate, driver)
  • look for LED light
  • ask driver your name before getting in
  • do not share personal information such as phone number, communication should only be done through the app.

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Louisiana Church Arsonist Charged for Hate Crime

In the wake of the massive fire at the Notre Dame, it seems that the commonality of arson has quite literally gone up in flames. Earlier this April in Opelousas, Louisiana, three churches were burnt down.

The churches were empty and there were no injuries in the fires, but a home next to one of the churches was forced to evacuate when the blaze jumped to their house.

Holden Matthews of Opelousas, Louisiana has been arrested on three charges of arson of a religious building as well as hate crime charges.

Since the three churches burned were all black churches, leading prosecutors to believe the attacks were racially motivated.  Based on current information, it is unclear whether the evidence points to clear signs of racial motivation.

There is an abundance of evidence against Matthews:

  • Matthews bought a gas can and oil rags that were found at the scenes.
  • Video surveillance showed his truck at the crime scenes.
  • He had news reports of the fires saved to his phone.
  • He had a phone call with a friend about burning churches.

Matthews’s pretrial hearing date is set for July 17 and jury selection is set for September 10.

Since the fires, the churches have received a massive influx of donations.

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