Massive search underway for automotive writer who disappeared during test drive

Posted at 6:08 AM, Jun 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-10 08:08:08-04
Davey Johnson

A massive search is underway in Northern California for a longtime automotive writer who mysteriously disappeared while on a motorcycle trip near the Sierra Mountains. Police say they’ve recovered nearly all of Davey Johnson’s belongings – including his motorcycle – but have no idea where he is.

Johnson’s girlfriend says he had been on the road test-driving it for an assignment when he went missing Wednesday, reports CBS News’ Jericka Duncan. Now, a team of 45 people, six dogs, two boats and a helicopter have been deployed to try and find him.

Jaclyn Trop says her boyfriend is known for being adventurous, but it’s completely out of character for him to disappear for this long.

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

Trop last spoke to Johnson around 5 a.m. Wednesday morning. The 44-year-old had been testing out a motorcycle for a story, and Trop says he did not text her for several hours. According to Trip, he said his cell phone died and he had been dealing with difficult riding conditions.

“I’m so sorry I worried you,” he texted. “Yes, I’m okay and alive, but I am wiped. I love you very much.”

Trop said she didn’t think he had a planned route and now she and investigators are trying to piece it together. Trop believes on Sunday, June 2, Johnson rode from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. The next day, he went from Las Vegas to Mammoth Mountain in California, and from there, on Tuesday, he headed to the Sonora Pass.

The Sonora Pass is the second-tallest highway pass in the Sierra Nevada, known for its winding, steep and sometimes icy roads, even in June. Trop says despite poor conditions, she believes Johnson made it over the pass by early Wednesday, the last time he was heard from.

“He texted a friend of his … to say that he was sitting in a creek at the rest stop, just enjoying himself,” Trop said.

Johnson’s bike was found by police Saturday parked at a rest stop in Calaveras County, California, at the foothills of the Sierra Mountain range. Trop says the next day his clothing, cellphone and laptop were found by a river about 50 feet away. His wallet is still missing.

Trop says she isn’t giving up hope, but as each day passes, it gets harder.

“We always talked about having 40 years together, and we had a 40-year timeline and to have that cut short … is horrible.”

Johnson is a respected contributor to Car and Driver Magazine. A spokesperson for the magazine said the entire team is eagerly awaiting positive news about his rescue.

Trop told us she and Johnson had only been dating a few months, but they planned on getting engaged in a few weeks.