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National
#WhatsMyName encourages rideshare safety after university student’s death
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#WhatsMyName encourages rideshare safety after university student’s death

A Guide to Safe Ride Sharing

#WhatsMyName encourages rideshare safety after university student’s death

In the wake of the death of a university student who was killed after getting into a car she mistook for her Uber ride, a new safety campaign called #WhatsMyName is encouraging people to be vigilant before entering ride-hailing cars.

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University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides wrote a letter to students Monday, asking them to be safe when using Uber or Lyft in honor of Samantha Josephson’s memory.

“In Samantha’s memory, I ask you to embrace a new pledge,” Pastides wrote. “That you will NEVER use a ride share service without doing the following: 1. Ensure the license plate, make, model and color of the vehicle match what's in your app and the driver matches the photo and name in the app; AND 2. Ask the driver "WHAT'S MY NAME?" If s/he doesn't say your name, DO NOT get into the vehicle.”

#WhatsMyName has subsequently been trending on Twitter as users, including Alpha Gamma Delta, Josephson’s sorority, spread the safety campaign.

Josephson, a 21-year-old USC senior, was last seen alive early Thursday morning entering a black Chevrolet Impala outside a Columbia bar, according to previous Cox Media Group reports. Friends and family were unable to get in touch with her the following day.

Early Saturday, Josephson’s family confirmed that she had been found dead. Columbia police said in a press conference that they’ve arrested a suspect in Josephson’s death, 24-year-old Nathaniel David Rowland. It’s believed that Rowland was the driver of the Impala that Josephson mistakenly got into.

“She simply, mistakenly, got into the car thinking it was an Uber ride,” said Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook.

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News

  • Two Florida law enforcement officers who tested positive for the coronavirus have died. Broward County Deputy Shannon Bennett, 39, died Friday, and Palm Beach County Sgt. Jose Diaz Ayala, 38, died Saturday, officials said. Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said Bennett, a 12-year veteran of the agency, reported feeling sick March 23 while at work and tested positive for the virus at a hospital the next day. Bennett was hospitalized March 27 and had been showing signs of recovery, but his condition worsened Friday, Tony said. Tony said Saturday that he considers Bennett’s death to be one in the line of duty. The agency described Bennett as an “out and proud gay law enforcement deputy” who helped lead an outreach initiative to foster relations between the law enforcement and LGBTQ communities. He served as a school resource officer at Deerfield Beach Elementary School, where he also mentored students. Bennett was planning to get married later this year. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said Ayala had been battling other underlying health conditions before contracting COVID-19. He had been with the agency for 14 years. Ayala joined the Sheriff’s Office’s Corrections Division in 2006 as a deputy and was promoted to sergeant in 2016. “He had an outstanding career with the agency and was respected by all of his peers,' Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said. Ayala leaves behind three daughters.
  • An Atlanta-area family is thankful for an act of kindness during the chaotic coronavirus pandemic. In 2013, Jamie McHenry was killed in a car crash during spring break in West Palm Beach, Florida, WSB-TV reported. Every year since his death, McHenry’s parents make the trip from their home in North Fulton County to St. George Island on the Florida Panhandle to pay their respects to their 13-year-old son at a memorial. This year, they could not go because of the coronavirus pandemic. But that didn’t mean the memory of their teen son was forgotten. A random stranger in the area heard the family’s story and decided to step in and make sure Jamie McHenry’s memorial was still decorated. The kind stranger, who posted a photo of the good deed on Facebook, wrote: “Christine and the McHenry family … we were sad to read that due to this pandemic your annual trip to SGI was canceled and you will miss visiting the memorial brick for your son Jamie. Wanted to know we are watching over it for you today and he is in our thoughts. God bless.”
  • Amoco and its parent company, BP, announced their gasoline stations will offer a 50-cent discount per gallon to first responders, doctors, nurses and hospital workers during the coronavirus pandemic. “Thank you for being on the front lines and keeping our communities healthy and safe,' the company said on its website. 'We are honored to be supporting you and helping you get where you need to go,” the company said on its website.The discount, which eligible customers can sign up for, will allow the health care workers to take the discount the next time they fill up, BP said on its website. People who want to take advantage of the discount must verify their status through ID.me, a website that “simplifies how individuals prove and share their identity online.”
  • Can’t get enough of “Tiger King”? Don’t despair. Netflix is releasing an extra episode next week, Variety reported. “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” is a true-crime docuseries about wild animal owners in the United States. The documentary focuses on the self-proclaimed Tiger King, Joe Exotic, aka Joseph Maldonado-Passage, who keeps hundreds of wild animals in cages at his G.W. Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma, Entertainment Weekly reported. Current zoo owner Jeff Lowe broke the news in a Cameo video posted on Twitter by Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Justin Turner. “Netflix is adding one more episode. It will be on next week. They’re filming here tomorrow,” Lowe said in the video. Lowe joined later episodes of “Tiger King” as Exotic’s business partner, Entertainment Weekly reported. It is not clear if the new episode will be a follow-up to the show’s seven-episode run or a reunion, Variety reported. Maldonado-Passage, 57, is currently serving a 22-year sentence in federal prison for two counts of murder-for-hire, eight counts of falsifying wildlife records and nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act. The murder-for-hire charges stem from a plot to have a hitman kill Carole Baskin of Tampa, Florida, and the wildlife crimes are related to Maldonado-Passage’s killing of five tigers and falsifying of paperwork. Netflix did not respond to a request for comment about a new episode, the magazine reported.
  • Georgians are still feeling the weight of the new coronavirus Sunday as the number of confirmed cases increased to 6,647 and the death toll rose to 211.  The Georgia Department of Public Health reports since Saturday 3 more Georgians have died due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel virus. The latest data released at noon shows 264 new cases since Saturday evening.  » COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia Of Georgia’s overall cases, 1,283 patients remain hospitalized, a rate of about 19%, according to the noon figures. That number is up from 1,266 confirmed hospitalizations Saturday evening. The rate of Georgia patients who have died of COVID-19 is about 3.1%.  The number of COVID-19 cases in the state has tripled in just over a week. Health officials announced that Georgia surpassed 2,000 cases on March 27. A statewide shelter-in-place mandate went into effect at 6 p.m. Friday in an effort to limit residents’ travel and curb the spread of the virus. The order requires Georgians to remain in their homes for all but essential activities, which include buying food, seeking medical care, working in critical jobs or exercising outdoors. » RELATED: Confusion surrounds Georgia’s coronavirus lockdown The number of cases across the state is expected to spike even more in coming weeks as plans are put in place to increase daily testing capacity. Projections suggest the state could see thousands of new cases and hundreds more deaths before the virus is contained. On Sunday, 27,832 tests had been conducted across the state with about 23.88% returning positive results.  » DASHBOARD: Real-time stats and charts tracking coronavirus in Georgia Fulton County has the most cases with 962, followed by Dougherty County with 686, DeKalb County with 543, and Cobb with 456, according to the latest data. Fulton reported 21 new cases since Saturday evening while hard-hit Dougherty County reported 50 more. The southwest Georgia county of about 90,000 has lost 30 residents to COVID-19, more than any other county in Georgia. MORE: City under siege: Coronavirus exacts heavy toll in Albany So far, the oldest patient to die in the state was a 96-year-old Bibb County woman while the youngest was a 29-year-old woman from Peach County, according to the health department.  For most, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and those with existing health problems are at risk of more severe illnesses, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover in a matter of weeks. Those who believe they are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to contact their primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility. Georgians can also call the state COVID-19 hotline at 844-442-2681 to share public health information and connect with medical professionals. 
  • As you drive toward the Marietta Square, you’ll see it to your right – a “Heroes Work Here” sign display below the Wellstar Kennestone hospital sign. Go through two traffic lights and you’ll see homemade signs of support in the front yards of some homeowners along Church Street.   From Marietta to elsewhere in metro Atlanta, residents are now acutely aware of the burden on health care workers as the coronavirus crisis plays out … and with likely many more tough days ahead before it all gets better.  What public shows of support for health care workers are you seeing in your local community? What are you and/or others doing to support those most at risk on the coronavirus frontlines? Tweet at us to tell us with your words and pictures: @wsbradio. You can also share with us on the WSB Open Mic, via the WSB Radio app.