German cyclist’s death found to be a homicide

How a German student visiting San Francisco died in August has been determined — vehicular homicide.

On the night of Aug. 13, Nils Yannick Linke was riding a borrowed bicycle to go to a party at Divisadero and McAllister streets when he was struck from behind. He crashed and died from blunt-force injuries to his head, according to the recently released autopsy. Linke was not wearing a helmet.

The man accused of running him down is scheduled to appear in court this week to discuss the autopsy report.

On the night that Linke died, 36-year-old Josh Calder was driving an older-model Mercedes at the intersection of Masonic Avenue and Turk Street when he struck the 22-year-old cyclist, according to police.

Calder, an administrator at San Francisco State University, had come from Kokkari restaurant at 200 Jackson St., where he and his girlfriend were drinking heavily, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors say Calder smashed into the back of Linke and his bicycle, then left the driver’s seat to switch spots with his girlfriend, Nicole Mairs, before fleeing. Mairs has not been charged with a crime.

A witness followed Calder’s car and police stopped the vehicle about two blocks away. Calder had a blood-alcohol content of 0.10, which is 0.02 above the legal limit in California, according to charging documents.

A toxicology report stated that Linke had only caffeine in his blood and no controlled substances.

Attorneys for Calder have not returned calls for comment, but in letters to the court, his family, friends and co-workers say he is a compassionate man who is filled with regret.

“Josh is so remorseful for what happened, and I know that the memory [of] the events of that horrific night eats Josh up daily,” his girlfriend said. “Every moment, Josh’s thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Nils Linke.”

Several memorials have been held for Linke, in San Francisco and in Berlin where he lived. Both his family and the bicycling community have expressed outrage that Calder is fighting the charges.

At the time, 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 hit in the head by errant gunfire while on a walk with her husband near Union Square.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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