(Reuters) - The body of a well-known U.S. automobile journalist who went missing in mountainous northern California after taking a motorcycle for a test-drive is believed to have been recovered, a local sheriff said on Friday, following an apparent accidental drowning.
Davey Johnson, 44, from Sacramento, had been missing since June 5 when he was testing a Honda CB1000R for an article in Motorcyclist magazine in the rugged and cold terrain near Mokelumne Hill, California.
Sheriff’s deputies on Thursday recovered the body of a deceased male from the Mokelumne River near Lake Pardee, the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office said on Friday.
“The deceased male has not been positively identified, however, Sheriff’s Detectives believe it to be missing person David Johnson,” the office said in a Tweet.
The bike was found at a rest stop on Route 49, near Mokelumne Hill, with a helmet and folded gloves, according to police and the magazine Car and Driver. Police also found Johnson’s clothes, phone, laptop and wallet, neatly placed by a snow-fed creek nearby.
His last-known communication was a June 5 text to his girlfriend Jaclyn Trop, multiple media outlets said. He had also texted a photo to a friend and said he was headed home to Sacramento, about 65 miles (105 km) from the bike and his possessions.
Trop said on Facebook that after “sitting on tenterhooks for 15 days” the Calaveras County sheriff’s office notified her that they had recovered Johnson’s body and that he was the victim of an accidental drowning.
She also shared the last email Johnson sent her, saying it was “full of wisdom and advice applicable in these agonizing weeks and months ahead” as she noted he proposed to her in April.
“We’ve been given a gift in the form of each other. A bulwark against the unfair slings and arrows of the world,” he wrote in the email.
The automobile and motorcycle publishing industry has been mourning the loss of Johnson since he went missing. In an obituary published on Wednesday on the Car and Driver website, Hearst Autos chief brand officer Eddie Alterman said he “saw Davey as the voice of his generation” and that “he was a gifted, innate storyteller and a man consumed with his enthusiasms.”
Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago; Editing by Chris Reese