Body, Believed To Be Missing Automotive Journalist, Found In River

Davey Johnson went missing while test driving a motorcycle for a magazine assignment.

By Gina Tron
David "Davey" Johnson

Law enforcement believes they found the body of a missing automotive journalist, who vanished earlier this month while on assignment, in a California river.

David "Davey" Johnson, 44, was last heard from June 5 while test-driving a motorcycle for a Motorcyclist magazine assignment.

He stopped and was sitting near a creek relaxing, Car and Driver, a publication he regularly contributed to, reported. He sent them a selfie at that creek, which flows into the Mokelumne River, KCRA3 in Sacramento reports.

A body was recovered from the Mokelumne River on Thursday. Although the body has not yet been positively identified, law enforcement believe it is Johnson, the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Department said in press release.

"Prior to the discovery of the body, Sheriff's Detectives pieced together circumstances and evidence which suggested that David Johnson may have entered the Mokelumne River and become the victim of accidental drowning,” the sheriff’s department states.

Two days after he vanished, his clothes, cellphone and a laptop a few feet away from the water.

As the results of an autopsy remain pending, his friends and family are paying tribute to his spirit.

"He is so full of life and I've just never met anyone like him," his girlfriend Jaclyn Trop, who is also an automotive journalist, said in an interview with "CBS This Morning" earlier this month. "There are just so many questions."

She told outlets that they were talking about marriage and that Johnson was planning to propose.

Trop told CBS News that Johnson’s last texts to her came the morning he went missing, and he apologized for not reaching out for several hours because of driving conditions.

"I'm so sorry I worried you," he texted, according to Car and Driver. "Yes, I'm okay and alive, but I am wiped. I love you very much."

Blake Z. Rong, an automotive journalist who worked with Johnson at Autoweek, told Oxygen that early in his career he looked up to Johnson, who he described as "wildly supportive."

"I had already lionized him as a great writer, but then I met him, and he treated me as an equal instead of what I truly was: some idiot college kid who wanted to write, and liked cars, but hadn't yet made the connection between the two," he said.

Rong added, "his strong suit was always taking care of people and elevating them and promoting their work" and that he awoke "some kind of automotive consciousness in me, and not just me, but all of these other writers our age came out of the woodwork."

Johnson's Instagram shows his zest for life. His Instagram bio states, "I want it way, way too loud."

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