Family of slain cyclist outraged driver is free

The family of a German student killed by an alleged drunken driver whom prosecutors say switched seats with his girlfriend before fleeing are outraged the driver is free on bail.

Yannick Linke, a 22-year-old Berlin resident, was a student traveling in the U.S. “for fun” and staying at a friend’s house in San Francisco. It was “just a holiday,” said his sister Sophia Linke on Saturday.

“I can’t believe that this person is free,” she said. “For us in Germany, this would never happen.” 

Josh Calder, 36, posted a portion of his bail on Thursday night and is free while fighting charges of vehicular manslaughter, hit-and-run and driving under the influence. The bail was set at $500,000. He pleaded not guilty.

About 10:40 p.m. Aug. 13, Calder was driving an older-model Mercedes-Benz at the intersection of Masonic Avenue and Turk Street when he allegedly struck Linke from behind, according to police.

Calder, who has an Oakland address, had come from Kokkari restaurant at 200 Jackson St. where he and his girlfriend had been drinking heavily, according to prosecutors. Investigators pulled the receipt for the meal, which included two bottles of wine, shots of liquor and after-dinner drinks.

Witnesses report seeing Calder smash into the back of Linke and his bicycle, then getting out of the driver’s seat, moving the bike to the side of the road and switching seats with his girlfriend before fleeing.

Police received the 911 dispatch and officers were able to pull over Calder’s car about two blocks away. Calder had a blood alcohol content of 0.10, which is 0.02 above the legal limit for alcohol in California.

Linke was the second German tourist to be tragically killed in San Francisco in a week. On Aug. 8, Mechthild Schröer, an elementary school principal from Menden, Germany, was shot in the head by errant gunfire while on an anniversary stroll with her husband near Union Square.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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