update 6/21/19: searchers from the calaveras county (california) sheriff's department found car and driver contributing editor davey g. johnson's body in the mokelumne river on june 20, victim of a presumed accidental drowning. he'd been missing since june 5. funeral plans are pending with the family.
obituary for davey g. johnson, 1975–2019
update 6/17/19: after 10 days of active search, the calaveras county sheriff’s office is officially scaling back the search and rescue efforts for davey g. johnson. a statement from the sheriff reads, "the search for david johnson will be continued by the calaveras county sheriff's office marine safety unit and sheriff's detectives; however, large-scale search efforts have been suspended pending further information or leads." lt. anthony eberhardt reiterated that foul play is not suspected and that scent-trailing dogs were able to follow johnson's trail to the water's edge. we will continue to update this story if more information becomes available.
update 6/12/19: the calaveras county sheriff's office has issued a new statement about the search, which is still ongoing and will continue.
update 6/11/19: after concluding the search for the night on monday, the calaveras sheriff and other involved parties requested additional resources for the search, which is continuing this morning. the gofundme raised $16,580, which will be donated to the calaveras county search and rescue. yesterday, the police found johnson's wallet in a pocket in his motorcycle pants.
update 6/10/19: search and rescue has continued through the weekend, with the calaveras sheriff's department widening search this morning. the search effort is focused mainly on the river and route 49, the nearby highway. a gofundme had been set up in support of the calaveras county search and rescue operation, but it has now been put on pause after exceeding its goal.
veteran automotive journalist and car and driver contributor davey g. johnson has been missing since wednesday, june 5, after he rode through the sonora pass in northern california. he was last heard from at 8:30 a.m., when he texted a friend to say he was sitting near a creek, en route home.
just after midnight saturday, the motorcycle davey was riding was found parked on its kickstand by a rest stop on california route 49 near mokelumne hill, with his helmet resting on top and his gloves folded neatly inside. his phone, laptop, and backpack were found close to a nearby river.
"i just really hope he's alive, because thinking about the alternative yesterday was . . . i don't even have words for it," said his girlfriend, fellow journalist jaclyn trop, who last heard from johnson at 2 a.m. pacific time on wednesday. "i was completely gutted, and i would still feel that way if they hadn't found the bike."
trop and johnson had spent the previous weekend together in los angeles, riding around town on the honda cb1000r that johnson was testing for motorcyclist magazine. trop flew to florida on sunday, and johnson took the bike to las vegas that night. he then drove to mammoth, california, on tuesday and then drove through the sonora pass on tuesday evening.
trop and johnson were out of touch for 12 hours on tuesday and into wednesday. he messaged her at 2 a.m. to apologize for not reaching out, saying his cellphone had died and he was navigating tricky and icy roads after the sun went down.
"i had a great time before it got dark," johnson texted. "that part of the sierra is just stupidly spectacular. anyway, i'm so sorry i worried you. yes, i am okay and alive, but i am wiped."
around 8:30 a.m. pacific time on wednesday, johnson sent a friend pictures of a stream that he was sitting near and said he was on his way home. he did not describe the location of the creek.
police began searching for johnson on saturday morning, 72 hours after his phone last pinged a cell tower in amador county. trop said it was difficult to get police to take her missing-person report seriously at first and that it took close to eight hours to convince them to trace his cellphone.
"i just hope he's figured out how to stay alive," trop said. "it's been 72 hours since he was last heard from. i think people can survive that, even if he was lost by a river."
anyone with information should contact the calaveras county sheriff at 209–754–6500.
this story was originally published on june 8, 2019.