Auto writer vanishes during California test drive: ‘We are all desperate for news’

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A “very extensive search” continued Monday for a Sacramento-based automotive writer who disappeared last week while test-driving a motorcycle in Northern California, according to local authorities and friends of the writer.

Davey G. Johnson, a 44-year-old journalist who contributes to Car and Driver and other auto-focused outlets, was last heard from by a friend on the morning of June 5 after Johnson drove through Sonora Pass, according to Car and Driver. Johnson texted the friend that he was sitting by a creek, according to the publication.

Johnson’s disappearance was reported to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office on June 5, and Calaveras County authorities were notified of the missing person’s report on June 7, Calaveras County Lt. Anthony Eberhardt said in a news release on Saturday.

His motorcycle was discovered near Mokelumne Hill in Calaveras County, but Johnson didn’t turn up in a search of the area, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The Honda CB1000R Johnson had been test-driving for Motorcyclist magazine was discovered on its kickstand at a Highway 49 rest stop around midnight Saturday — and his belongings, including a laptop, phone and backpack, were discovered at a river close to the bike, Car and Driver reported.

“We are all desperate for news,” Abby Bassett, a friend of Johnson, wrote in a Monday morning Facebook update on his disappearance, adding that the Sheriff’s Office is “still in the midst of a very extensive search and rescue effort.”

Bassett wrote Sunday night that rescuers’ efforts are “focusing mainly on the water” in the Mokelumne River and the highway nearby.

“I just really hope he’s alive, because thinking about the alternative yesterday was . . . I don’t even have words for it,” said Johnson’s girlfriend, journalist Jaclyn Trop, according to Car and Driver. “I was completely gutted, and I would still feel that way if they hadn’t found the bike.”

Johnson and Trop had been riding the motorcycle in Los Angeles before Johnson headed to Las Vegas on his own, then to Mammoth, California, and on to the Sonora Pass, Car and Driver reports. Johnson took Highway 108 from the east side of the Sierra Nevada to the western side of the mountains, according to Autoweek.

Deputies said Calaveras County Search and Rescue, Amador County Search and Rescue, California Highway Patrol and others are helping in the search effort.

Trop said Johnson was adventure-seeking, but she added that this sort of disappearance wasn’t typical, CBS reports.

“There’s just so many questions that we have,” Trop said, according to CBS.

Trop said Johnson had texted her at 5 a.m. June 5 to say the riding conditions were tough and that he’d been out of touch because his phone had died, according to CBS.

“I’m so sorry I worried you,” Johnson texted Trop before his disappearance, according to the TV network. “Yes, I’m okay and alive, but I am wiped. I love you very much.”

Though many of Johnson’s possessions were found near the bike, his wallet was missing, according to CBS.

“We always talked about having 40 years together, and we had a 40-year timeline and to have that cut short … is horrible,” Trop said, adding that she and Johnson been dating for just months but had talked about getting engaged, CBS reports.

As of Monday afternoon, a GoFundMe page created to raise money for the Calaveras County Search and Rescue effort has raised more than $15,000. So far, more than 40 people, two helicopters and search dogs have pitched in to look for him, according to Jalopnik.

AMBER, Blue and Silver Alerts are used by local law enforcement to notify the public that someone has gone missing. Here’s what you need to know about what each color code means.

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