The search-and-rescue team found his motorcycle first. Then his clothing, phone and laptop. Later, they found his wallet. But they still haven’t found him.
David Gordon Johnson, a veteran automotive journalist, was test-driving a motorcycle in the Sierra Nevada for a story when he went missing on Wednesday. Johnson, 43, had been planning to drive the Honda CB1000R from Las Vegas over Sonora Pass — the second-highest highway pass in California — toward Sacramento when his girlfriend last heard from him around 2 a.m. local time.
Johnson’s girlfriend, Jaclyn Trop, told The Washington Post that she texted Johnson late Tuesday to ask if he was okay after she had not heard from him in a while. A few hours later, he responded that the road had been icy and that his phone and laptop had died.
“I had a great time before it got dark,” Johnson wrote, according to an image of the text. “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.”
Johnson, whose byline is Davey G. Johnson, texted a friend a photo of himself in a creek a few hours later. Trop said she reported him as missing to law enforcement in Sacramento and nearby counties later that day.
Other agencies joined the search, they said, and found Johnson’s motorcycle at a rest stop near the town of Mokelumne Hill in Calaveras County. They found his clothing, cellphone and laptop a few feet from the river, Calaveras County Lt. Anthony Eberhardt told the Associated Press.
The river is at a high flow, Eberhardt told the AP, and was moving at 35 mph. Authorities do not suspect foul play, Eberhardt said.
Johnson and Trop had spent the weekend before his trip in Los Angeles, before she flew to Florida and he took the motorcycle to Las Vegas, Trop told The Washington Post. He was supposed to ride home to Sacramento on Wednesday, she said.
“He took a lot of bike trips in the area, so that was not unusual for him,” said Trop, 36. After about two decades as an automotive journalist, “He knew the region really well,” she said.
The couple had started dating six months ago after they met on a motorcycle ride through Canada to the Arctic Ocean. They expected to get engaged next month, Trop said, and she planned to move to Sacramento to be with him.
A GoFundMe page raising money for the search efforts stopped accepting donations after it surpassed its $15,000 goal.
Motorcyclist magazine did not immediately respond to a request for comment.