The body of a well-known automotive journalist was found in a Northern California river last week, capping a weekslong search for the missing man, according to a family friend.

Davey Johnson, 43, had been missing since June 5, when he was test-driving a motorcycle for a magazine review. On his way home, he went off-course, making a stop at Big Bar Launch recreation rest area to take a dip in the Mokelumne River, authorities said.

“It absolutely breaks my heart to be the bearer of this news,” Abigail Bassett, a friend of Johnson’s, in a Facebook post. “The Calaveras County authorities called (Johnson’s fiancee) Jaclyn (Trop) this evening to notify her that they have recovered Davey’s body. He was found in the river.”

Shortly after he was reported missing, authorities found his motorcycle, gloves and helmet in the recreation area. His keys were still in the bike’s ignition.

Crews searched hundreds of miles along the river after scent dogs led them there. Authorities found more of Johnson’s clothing along a feeder stream, authorities said.

Friends and family remembered Johnson as an adventurous spirit and talented writer. He worked in the automotive journalism industry for more than 15 years and recently had been freelancing for publications such as Motorcyclist, Car and Driver, and Autoweek.


“He was in his element,” said Chris Cantle, Johnson’s friend and editor of the magazine Motorcyclist. “The thing that makes me adore the guy made him go missing. That’s hard to reconcile.”

Shortly after his disappearance, Johnson was scheduled to take a trip to England and make his engagement to Trop official.

“I’m feeling sick to my stomach and confused,” Trop said. “Davey was just magic. He completely swept me off my feet.”

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