Alleged Drunken Driver Pleads Not Guilty in Cyclist Hit-and-Run Death

Joshu_Calder_in_Court.jpgJoshua Calder, center, leaves the courtroom today after pleading not guilty to numerous charges in the death of a 22-year-old bicyclist. Photo: Bryan Goebel.

An Oakland man who allegedly hit and killed a 22-year-old bicyclist while driving drunk on Masonic Avenue one week ago switched seats with his girlfriend in his Mercedes-Benz after the crime and then fled the scene while the victim lay bleeding in the street, San Francisco prosecutors have alleged in court documents. 

The revelations came as 36-year-old Joshua Calder, who was released from jail after posting bail yesterday, pleaded not guilty in a San Francisco courtroom today to charges of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence causing injury and leaving the scene of the crash. If convicted of all charges, Calder could face up to nine years in prison.

The victim, Nils Yannick Linke, a German tourist, had been traveling southbound on Masonic Avenue last Friday night around 10:30 p.m. when he was hit from behind.

"I’ve never seen someone bleeding so much before. His bike was every place. There was a seat down toward the pedestrian walking part. It was really scary," a witness told Streetsblog. CBS5 video of the aftermath showed one of the bike's lights still blinking.

Sources who have seen a 9-page court document filed yesterday told Streetsblog that Calder, who admitted that he had been drinking, had a blood alcohol level of .10 two hours after the crash. According to the San Francisco Examiner, he and his girlfriend consumed "two bottles of wine, shots of liquor and after-dinner drinks" at a restaurant on Jackson Street in the Financial District.

The document indicates Calder got out of the vehicle after the crash, looked at Linke's body -- he was killed instantly -- and grabbed what was left of the bike and placed it on the sidewalk.

Then, according to the document, Calder got back in his vehicle, but in the passenger's seat, leaving the gruesome scene with his girlfriend at the wheel. She drove away and turned westbound on Golden Gate Avenue but they were caught by police a short time later at Tamalpais Terrace and Turk Street. It's not known if the girlfriend will face charges.

In court today, Calder, who has no prior criminal record, sat calmly with two men by his side before his case was called. His attorney entered a not guilty plea on his behalf and he was ordered to return to court October 1 for a status hearing. He posted $500,000 bail yesterday.

Assistant District Attorney Brian Buckelew, who is prosecuting the case, said the DMV immediately suspended Calder's driver license and will make a determination within 30 days whether to revoke it for a period of one to two years while the case winds its way through court. In the unlikely event the DMV does not revoke his license, Judge Ann Bouliane set conditions on his release allowing him to drive to and from work and court-ordered rehabilitation. He was also ordered not to consume any alcohol.

"Joshua Calder’s decision to drink and drive led to the tragic death of Nils Linke. We cannot tolerate this kind of reckless behavior in San Francisco," District Attorney Kamala Harris said in a press release issued earlier this week on the case.

Buckelew would not reveal how fast Calder was driving that night. He said he is still waiting for the autopsy report, CSI photos and information from accident reconstruction experts.

"We'll wait and see what we have at the next court date and then likely set a preliminary hearing after that," he said.

A phone call to Calder's attorney, Lewis Romero, was not returned.

Updated, 10:07 p.m.