Yannick Linke's grave in Berlin. Photo: Petra Linke
"We are stardust. Billion year old carbon. We are golden." -- a favorite lyric for Yannick Linke
Flowers placed on Masonic sidewalk at Turk by Petra Linke
in honor of her only son. Photo: Michael Helquist
One year ago Yannick Linke, a 22-year-old German college student and visitor to San Francisco, was struck and killed by a speeding motorist while riding his bicycle on Masonic Avenue. He had arrived in the city a few days earlier to visit friends as part of a holiday trip to the United States. On August 9th, four days before his death, Linke celebrated his birthday.
Petra Linke, Yannick's mother, visited San Francisco for the first time three weeks ago and stopped at the site of her son's death. Amid the roar of the traffic and afternoon fog, she laid flowers at the same location where her daughter Sophia had placed candles a few months earlier. City crews long ago removed the ghost bike locked to a utility pole at the site and the wind chimes placed to commemorate the young man at a memorial two weeks after his death. For that occasion, more than 100 bicyclists and community members gathered in grief to pay their respects at Masonic and Turk. For her visit, Petra Linke requested the company of bicyclists who had participated in last year's memorial when she walked to the intersection.
Petra Linke had timed her visit to coincide with a preliminary Superior Court hearing for the charges brought against the motorist who struck and killed her son while driving south on Masonic. (Lawyers for the Linke family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver, 36-year-old Joshua Calder in January). He has been ordered to stand trial for vehicular manslaughter, hit-and-run, and driving under the influence. As reported in the San Francisco Examiner, Assistant District Attorney Todd Barrett stated in court that Calder had the alcohol equivalent of seven drinks in his system in addition to THC from smoking marijuana. The defense attorney, Daniel Barton, argued that although Calder had been drinking, his alcohol blood level was within legal limits. Calder has pleaded not guilty. Soon after the collision, he posted the $500,000 bail. Judge Newton Lam ordered the defendant to return to court for a formal arraignment on September 1st.
Petra Linke wrote from Berlin last week of her plans on her son's birthday:
I would like to say I miss Yannick and the whole family does. It is very hard to live without his funny and very much interesting view on music, travelling, his studies. I will go to his grave on Tuesday, his birthday, and I will put shells from Florida and New Jersey. And a birthday candle. I hope for justice.
Yannick Linke, traveller Photo provided by Sophia Linke