Girlfriend of Driver Charged with Killing SF Bicyclist Still Being Investigated

The ghost bike locked to a pole at Masonic and Turk in memory of Nils Yannick Linke was recently removed. But a chiming harp, crafted from the fame of a bike by the Deraillers, does remain.
The ghost bike locked to a pole at Masonic and Turk in memory of Nils Yannick Linke was recently removed but a chiming bike harp crafted by the Derailleurs remains.

The girlfriend of a drunk driver charged with killing a 22-year-old bicyclist on Masonic Avenue a month ago is still being investigated for allegedly taking over the wheel and fleeing the scene after the crash, though a spokesperson for District Attorney Kamala Harris said a decision has not been made on whether she’ll be charged.

The woman, identified in court documents as Nicole Mairs, owned the Mercedes that ran down Nils Yannick Linke, a German tourist who had been visiting San Francisco for the first time. The crash happened at 10:39 p.m. on August 13th on Masonic at Turk Street. Linke, described by family and friends as a vibrant anthropology student with a passion for music and world travel, was declared dead at 11:24 p.m.

According to the documents (PDF) obtained by Streetsblog, Mairs, sitting in the passenger seat, tried to warn Joshua Calder that there was a bicyclist in the street just seconds before the crash by shouting “Stop! Stop! Bike! Bike!”

The defendant responded, “what?” and traveled through the intersection. The Mercedes then struck the bicycle from behind and the defendant hit the brakes and swerved. The bicycle was sheared in half and came to a rest in the street with the safety light still flashing. Mr. Linke, too, laid in the street, unconscious. The defendant pulled to right side of the road on Masonic Street at Golden Gate Avenue (which is the same block as the incident). The defendant and Ms. Mairs exited the vehicle and ran up to the victim, who lay dying in the street. The victim was convulsing and bleeding from the nose and ears. The defendant moved the victim’s bicycle onto the sidewalk and, along with Ms. Mairs, returned to the Mercedes. Neither the defendant nor Ms. Mairs called the police despite both having cell phones. When they reached the Mercedes, Ms. Mairs got into the driver’s seat and the defendant got into the passenger seat.

That account, written by Assistant District Attorney Brian Buckelew, was based on “the incident report, the collision report, the Inspector’s Chronology, taped statements by the defendant, his girlfriend Nicole Mairs, and an independent witness, and evidence collected to date.”

Yannick_1
Nils Yannick Linke. Photo courtesy of Linke family.

Mairs and Calder were stopped by police on Tamalpais Terrace and Turk Street after an officer noticed front end damage. Both admitted to police they had been drinking. The documents indicate they dined and drank at Kokkari restaurant where they ran up a $408 tab. Mairs picked up the bill, which included two bottles of “BT Wolf Family wine, a champagne cocktail, a Stella Artois beer, and two shots of Plomari, a variety of Ouzo.”

Calder, 36, has pleaded not guilty to charges of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence causing injury, DUI and leaving the scene of an accident causing injury. If convicted, Calder could face up to nine years in prison. He’s currently free on bail and due back in court October 1.

Seth Steward, a spokesperson for the D.A.’s office, would not elaborate on the potential charges Mairs could be facing.

Meanwhile, the ghost bike locked on a pole on Masonic and Turk in Linke’s memory was removed last week by a DPW street cleaning crew. DPW spokesperson Christine Falvey said the bike was partially in the street and the crew made the decision to remove it because it was “blocking the public right-of-way.” Falvey said DPW’s policy on any sidewalk memorial is to leave it up for three weeks, and that they attempt to contact the families of victims before removing them.

Falvey said DPW would look into a policy recently enacted in New York City, which will allow ghost bikes to remain on the streets permanently.

“Ghost bikes are a way for a community to come together to honor and memorialize the victim’s life. Installed by the victim’s family, friends or loved ones, the ghost bike really underscores our work as it is a quiet, visual reminder of the importance of safer streets,” said Renee Rivera, the acting executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

Last week, more than 200 family members and friends came together to pay tribute to Linke in his hometown of Berlin, Germany. It followed a recent candlelight vigil in San Francisco.

  • I just don’t get how you can, for one second, think about going out to a nice restaurant during which you will get loaded and decide to bring the car. These trashy people live in Oakland–fine, drive to BART, but then you can BART to within .4 miles of your restaurant.

    I just don’t know people who would ever think to do this, to drive when they know they are going to get very drunk, let alone drink at all. Is this really more common than I’m aware?

    I hope they charge her. Kind of sick they haven’t yet, and that he’s out. Worst part is we know this guy will be driving again in the future.

  • soij

    How can the DA even *consider* not prosecuting? First, she handed the keys of her car to someone she KNEW was drunk – she paid for those drinks! Next, she was an accessory to leaving the scene of an accident. I wish it were a crime to not call 911 to get the man emergency help (maybe it is, but I doubt it). Finally, she tampered with a crime scene by moving the bike. She is a reprehensible cold-hearted sociopath and needs to see the inside of a jail or prison for her part in his death.

  • Why didn’t she get tested at the scene? She was driving when they were pulled over and admitted to drinking.

    Also, if they live in Oakland, why were they over on Masonic? Looks to me as if they came down Geary, took a left on Masonic, and were headed somewhere in the western or southern part of the city.

  • The account written by the Assistant District Attorney is troubling on so many levels. I in no way condone drunk driving, but I do accept that hitting Linke was unintentional. However, getting out of their car, seeing the state of Linke, and then driving off was clearly intentional. They should both do prison time for that. How, how, how in the world could they leave a human being in that condition on the street?

    And that detail of moving the bike onto the sidewalk. So strange. Yes, leave a man to die in the street, but a broken bike–well, that might cause some car a flat tire.

  • @Justin – they live in Oakland, went to Kokkari, and caused an accident on Masonic. Where were they headed? Not back to Oakland…

  • Andy K

    @taomom – they left the scene, left a guy to die in the middle of the street, made bad decisions, and killed someone because they were shit faced. They should have just stayed home.

    They both should be locked up for a long time.

  • Justin: My personal recent experience from one night in jail (for civil disobedience) was seeing MANY of the people in jail for drunk driving, and none of them expressing remorse for doing so. And then this, from Wikipedia: “In the United States the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 17,941 people died in 2006 in “alcohol-related” collisions, representing 40% of total traffic deaths in the US. NHTSA states 275,000 were injured in alcohol-related accidents in 2003 according to DOT HS 809775, a.k.a. Traffic Safety Facts 2003. NHTSA defines fatal collisions as “alcohol-related” if they believe the driver, a passenger, or non-motorist (such as a pedestrian or pedal cyclist) had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.01 or greater.”

  • Charlie

    I agree w/ taomom….how could they leave Linke in the middle of the street and not call 911? that’s not drunk, that’s evil.

  • Doug

    “NHTSA defines fatal collisions as “alcohol-related” if they believe the driver, a passenger, or non-motorist (such as a pedestrian or pedal cyclist) had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.01 or greater.””

    So if drink and get into a cab… and it gets into a crash… is that alcohol related? Or if you have a sober designated driver who gets into a crash with his drunk passengers, is that alcohol related?

    Those will be a tiny portion of the accidents, but why the odd definition?

  • JD

    Truly sickening. Our society is so addicted to cars that we can’t even think straight. We think of driving drunk, even when it kills somebody, as deserving nothing more than a slap on the wrist. We just assume it’s part of our society and that’s there’s nothing we can do about it. This is yet another reason we need to take back our cities from cars and return them to the people; we obviously cannot handle the responsibility that comes with cars.

  • outraged

    in reply to soij,
    in Germany it is a crime to leave the scene of an accident without reporting it to police.

  • Folks, I’ve had to erase SFINTEL’s comments and the thread surrounding it. The commenter was making an allegation that has not been confirmed. It’s certainly something we’re going to look into, though. They are some serious claims that haven’t been backed up. I’ll update the story if I get more information.

  • Nick

    Both the suspect and his girlfriend are likely reading along from behind their computer screens. They know they are both in some serious trouble. There’s no lesson here that we all didn’t know before.

    Don’t drink and drive. It’s a story repeated 20,000 times over each year.

  • cyclotronic

    we must have patience with the DA, justice works slower than the rope and pitchforks some of us would prefer in cases like this. i doubt they will let her slide on this one, i can’t imagine how they could.

  • cyclotronic

    that said, too bad a drunk didn’t run them over while they were inspecting their slaughter. that would have been justice served

  • I’m of the opinion comments should be closed on all articles/columns referring to this incident. cyclotronic’s comments are tasteless and appalling.

  • cyclotronic

    mike – as to the first comment, i don’t see how you could find a suggestion of patience to those who are understandably angry to be tasteless or appalling. perhaps you need to read more carefully. by my calling for patience, you could infer that i do not include myself in the “rope and pitchforks” crowd.

    as to the second comment – you probably never heard of karma. josh and nicole would have their karma served if they were run over by a drunk. it’s a simple equation really. what exactly is tasteless and appalling about that? did i suggest that someone deliberately run them over? no.

    of course, you are welcome to be of an opinion, as am i. i will reserve my opinion.

  • cyclotronic

    in fact, what would be truly appalling and tasteless would be if i suggested it would be great if the DA decided not to charge Nicole of lack of evidence, and that Josh managed to use his “not guilty” to plea bargain his sentence down to community service, and now we can all rest easy knowing that the whole thing makes them feel really, really bad and totally messed up their year, which, like, was going to have some fun vacations coming up.

  • Calling for someone to get hit by a car is tasteless (hiding behind karma makes it cowardly as well) regardless of what they did. I don’t think 9 years is enough, especially when people who have done far less serious crimes serve longer sentences.

    Sadly, we will only see more events like this, no matter how stiff a penalty, if we continue to encourage driving at all costs. Muni cut owl service and cabs aren’t exactly cheap when compared to parking your car for free all night and then driving home after some drinks. People will continue to see the cheapest and easiest option as driving because they don’t plan on getting pulled over or hitting something/someone, but they will have to plan for a non-existent bus or $40+ in cab rides. Add in the fact that our roads’ design speed is usually 15-20 mph over the posted limit and problems only compound.

  • I think nine years is enough, maybe more than enough. He would probably learn his lesson and it would also be a deterrent to people that hear about it.

    That said, I doubt he will get anywhere close to it. Maybe two years, if that.

    But, Mike, you’re right that the real solution is to create decent alternatives to driving.

  • Honest Abe

    Really? 9 years is enough?? With “good behavior” (read: highly paid lawyers), etc. etc. it’ll work out to maybe 2 years at most.
    Is that what a human life is worth? Just 2 years in Club Fed?

    These assh*les should be locked up for 25 years MINIMUM. That will serve as a deterrent.

    This was no accident. THE MOMENT YOU GET BEHIND THE WHEEL OF A VEHICLE IN A DRUNK STATE, YOU ARE MAKING A CONSCIOUS DECISION TO DO SO. You are choosing to put yourself and others at risk.

    Society is so f*cked up. We will lock a guy away for 15 years for growing a few plants, but let murderers walk in a couple.

  • You have to ask yourself what the goal of imprisonment is. As I see it, there are three common goals:
    1) Remove the person from society because they are a danger.
    2) Serve as a deterrent so others will be less likely to engage in similar behavior.
    3) Revenge.

    I really only see (1) and (2) as valid reasons.

    Once you have identified the goals, you then have to ask how long of a prison sentence is required to achieve those goals. For me, five years would about do it.

    But I think what really needs to be done is stick people in jail for a week or more for their first drunk driving offense, even if they don’t hit anything. I think that would be the real deterrent.

    Under current sentencing norms, people would probably still drive drunk because they would figure they won’t hit anyone like this guy did. So we need to increase the penalty to be more of a deterrent.

  • Gina G

    I just want to know about the server at Kokari. WTF was that person thinking letting them roll out of the place after running up a tab like that, knowing they must be smashed. What about the responsibility of the person serving their drinks? I know they didn’t say anything because they wanted to get tipped but in the end, they are letting drunk people go out and put other lives at risk. I am so beside myself to know that they drove off thinking they could run away. What kind of human is that? No soul. Or so full of self importance, I can’t relate. I don’t care how scared you are, own up to your actions and take responsibility for the person you just smashed to pieces left lying in the street. I also am angry they removed the ghost bike. That was a chilling reminder of what happened that should be left there to remind people to slow down and know that people are getting killed. I really want both of them to pay big time and give an apology to the family. Pleading not guilty is another thing that makes my stomach turn. Ridiculous.

  • Gina G, I was going to comment on this earlier but didn’t. The server can’t assume the person is driving just as much as they can’t assume they aren’t driving. My wife and I don’t own a car, should that server cut us off because they assume that we might be driving? Plus, this restaurant is near some of the best transit in the city, nay bay area. However, along your lines of thinking – it is a high ticket place (see $400 tab) so the odds of them walking home is pretty slim, but they obviously could afford a cab.

  • cyclotronic

    mike – do you own a bike? do you ride a bike often through the intersection of Turk and Masonic? how often, per week, is your life directly threatened by reckless, inattentive, inhebriated, or lawless drivers?

    i’m curious because you seem to look at this case rather abstractly. for some of us it is very real. it makes me wonder why you feel yourself a greater authiority to speak and be heard on the subject than i.

    it’s true, my comments were tasteless. clearly i am not the man of wealth and taste that Joshua Calder shows himself to be. dinner at Kokkari, two bottles of BT Wolf Family wine (“excellent choice, sir!”) with Plomari ouzo to aid digestion and bring about some after dinner merriment. clearly, Joshua is a gentleman of good grooming and refinement, while I am but part of the tasteless rabble who takes a rather presumptuous umbrage at some of his misfortunate indiscretions.

    but for me, sir micheal, all is not lost! this is america, after all. someday i too, with proper instruction and admonishments (and money to keep my good name well-scrubbed,) may hope to enter the ranks of the tasteful gentlemen of the world. for now, i must resign myself to groveling in their dung, a position we can both agree is both tasteless and appalling.

  • @cyclotronic – I saw Mike in Nicasio on Saturday. I’m sure he got his share of scares on his ride from SF to Nicasio and back. Of course most of those scares were from Blazing Saddles riders on the Bridge, riding with no helmet.

    Godwin’s Helmet Law satisfied, I declare this thread closed.

  • Whatever sentence he might or might not get, it is probably not going to be enough. I want to see the document about the accident publish in complete detail. And we will forever associate Mr Joshua Calder with the deplorable act he have committed on that night. His only chance of redemption will be to give complete and unconditional confession.

  • Gina G

    @ Mike Son: I really think that the servers of restaurants after getting people S*&% faced should be obliged to ask, would you like assistance this evening with calling a cab? Its kinda a moral duty I think. After serving all kinds of alcohol and then letting them go free, look what can happen! I know its a slippery slope, but it should be asked. The real problem in my humble opinion is the grade of that area. I live VERYYYYY close to that area, you could easily fly down Masonic and as it slopes down hill at Turk, you could miss the biker if you are going to fast cause the grade changes and you have to adjust. That and also at that area, the lanes merge, as street parking becomes allowable and all the cars move. Its really not safe for bikers at all. The driver Joshua was altered, impaired and going way too fast. Pleading not guilty when he is obviously guilty is an insult to my and everyone else’s intelligence.

  • janel

    Thanks Bryan for keeping a close watch on this case. As you know, once the “accident” report is filed it is confidential and can only be accessed by attorneys and family. This is based on CA Vehicle Code 20012 (http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d10/vc20012.htm).

    I was surprised to learn about this provision as I try to collect information about bicycle crashes in the Bay Area for a map I am making (http://jsruby.wordpress.com/bicycle-crash-map/)

    How are we supposed to hold people who hit cyclists accountable if we can not find out details of the crashes? How are we supposed to publicize the consequences of irresponsible driving if we do not have access to the crash reports? These reports should be made readily available to the public.

    One crash I am following up on is Mary Yonkers who was killed last year, hit by a dump truck that turned right then drove away (http://sf.streetsblog.org/2009/10/14/bicyclist-killed-in-redwood-city-hit-and-run/). I was able to tease out from the police that Mary was found at fault based on vehicle code 21755 (unsafe passing on the right) and the driver was not cited. This does not seem right but I can not obtain the complete report to look at the details.

  • Sean

    Time for a realty check folks. Nothing will change. It happens over and over and over again. Crimes committed by cars are not treated as crimes, perhaps bad luck, unfortunate, but not a crime or at least a serious crime.

    Over and over the rights of automobile users dominate. Over and over drunk drivers are allowed back on the street to drive some more.
    What do we do? Take away the car? Never, we might take away the license but never, never suggest that a repeat offender lose his car. As we all know, it does not take a license to drive a car. It takes a car.

    Grow pot you lose you house. Automobiles and crimes committed by the drivers have always been held to a lower level of accountability and more innocent people will be murdered by the hands of a drunk behind the wheel.

    It won’t change folks, drunks leaving bars, drunks leaving BBQ’s, ball games, parties whatever. It won’t stop. More people will die and the same o same o will continue.

    Calder will be sobbing as the judge reads his sentence full of remorse blah blah blah. 9 years is not enough. A human was killed by behavior that is known to kill. No sympathy, think about the people that victim left behind. There suffering may never end because of Calder’s crime.

  • Over and over and over again……..It will never end.

    Woman killed by drunk driver within a block of Richmond home
    By: Brent Begin
    Examiner Staff Writer
    09/14/10 6:24 PM PDT
    A sad bit of news slipped off the radar over the weekend. A 65-year-old woman was killed on Saturday when an alleged drunk driver with a suspended license slammed into her car at Cabrillo Street and 40th Avenue.

    http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/blogs/law-disorder/Woman-killed-by-drunk-driver-within-a-block-of-Richmond-home-102919909.html#ixzz0zeAXdvr2

  • cyclotronic

    its worth having a look at the pdf of the bail motion.

    nicole is caught in two blatant lies.

    “split a bottle of wine.” when the reciept shows otherwise.

    and saying she was driving around the block to position it closer to turk and masonic, when she only turned to go back after two blocks, when they noticed there was a cruiser on their tail. (way to go SFPD!)

    what a pair of weasels.

    and a “not guilty” plea? speaks volumes against joshua’s character, however pleasant his coworkers found his demeanor. i’m sure if he managed to swerve and avoid the tragedy, they wouldn’t have thought again of the incident by the time they hit the panhandle. there are plenty of THOSE people still out on the road. i wouldn’t be suprised if he didn’t have several near misses in his past.

    they really do need to throw the book at this one to set an example. he is guilty, unrepentant, sorry only for himself, and deserves the full penalty of law.

    i doubt he will, but i hope he reads this someday, just to know that he engenders pure hatred, tempered only by the hope that he will live long and truly suffer a life of misery, one that he can’t accept due to his weak character, but is thrust upon him nonetheless.

  • juliet

    didn’t I read somewhere that three strikes need not be successive but can be charged for the same crime? If so, would Mr. Calder not be looking at 25-life? I am not a great fan of the 3 strikes law, but in this case it may bring justice a little closer. My heart aches to think of the Linke family and friends having to endure the imposition of a light sentence for this heinous crime. Leaving the scene without attempting to render assistance or to call for assistance with the victim convulsing and bleeding out in the street seals the deal in my book–not to mention the bizarre detail of moving the bike to the sidewalk. Crazy s$#!

  • juliet

    and wow — that pdf is really interesting. Is there any way streetsblog can get ahold of the motion filed by the defense for a reduction in bail?

  • Jack McKee

    Yannick was my best friend, and now he’s nothing more than a memory. This scumbag was too concerned with being a big man and driving home, in his girlfriend’s car, after having had her pay for the silly amount of booZe they just drank. I have never wanted someone to die until now, but after what Josh Calder took from me, Yannick’s mother, father, sisters, friends, and Yannick himself, I would feel no sorrow in throwing this sh*thead to the curb and letting the wolves at him. I hope you read every bit of news about yourself Mr. Calder and know EVERY day that you have taken a son, brother, friend, and all around wonderful person from the face of this earth. May God take pity on your pathetic soul

  • RememberNils

    @Jack, words cannot express my grief and outrage. I am so very sorry for your loss — for all our loss– of this obviously wonderful young man whom most of us will now never have a chance to get to know. Calder is scheduled for a hearing in Superior Court on this case today (Fri, 10/1) and I have been told that Brent Begin of the Examiner will be following up. Hope Bryan Goebel and large numbers of friends of Nils and concerned community members will show up for the hearing. We must keep this case alive in the press–public pressure seems to be the only way to ensure that it will not be swept under the rug and quickly forgotten.

    I read somewhere that Calder was released from jail after the bail hearing without posting the full amount of the bail — would love to know if that is true — and if it is, would that be an indication that the case is not being taken seriously by the court and/or the DA? $500K bail and maximum 9 yrs in prison both seem lenient under the circumstances (failing to render aid or call for assistance as Nils lay dying in the street, fleeing the scene,, the bizarre detail of moving the bike to the sidewalk (hope they got fingerprints!) evidence of significant alcohol and drug use — high blood alcohol count hours after the accident, testing positive for cannaboids, apparent lack of remorse, etc etc etc ad nauseum). Truly sickening.

    I also understand from earlier news accounts that Calder is permitted to drive to and from rehab and work — a scary proposition for the rest of us who must share the road with someone of such obviously impaired judgment and questionable ethics.

    I agree with the earlier proposal that those who have been convicted of drunk driving be required to equip their cars with license plates that disclose this fact — after, of course, a lengthy revocation of their driving privileges.

    In any event, if the news media stay on top of this, we should know much more about the case in the next few hours. Stay tuned.

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