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Bicycle Safety

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 harp, crafted from the fame of a bike by the Deraillers, does remain.

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."


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.

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