Cops think body found in California river is an automotive writer

The writer went missing while doing a road test

By Steve Almasy and Hollie Silverman, CNN

The sheriff's office in Calaveras County, California, says a body found in the Mokelumne River near the inlet of Lake Pardee.

(CNN) - The sheriff's office in Calaveras County, California, thinks that a body found Thursday in a river is that of a freelance automotive writer who disappeared while taking a motorcycle on a road test.

David Gordon Johnson, 44, was reported missing June 5 and the motorcycle he was to write about was discovered two days later at a river access point.

The sheriff's office said Friday its investigation led detectives to believe that Johnson had drowned accidentally.

The body found Thursday was in the Mokelumne River near the inlet of Lake Pardee. The medical examiner's office is looking into cause of death.

Johnson's fiancée, Jaclyn Trop, told CNN affiliate KCRA earlier this month that he was last heard from when he texted a friend to say he was sitting near a creek before heading home on the Honda CB1000R he was riding for Motorcyclist magazine.

Calaveras County is 90 minutes southeast of Sacramento.


Personal items found with bike


California Highway Patrol officers found Johnson's motorcycle parked at a rest stop near the town of Mokelumne Hill in Calaveras County. The bike, discovered just after midnight, was found with Johnson's helmet and gloves, KCRA reported. His phone, laptop and backpack were found close to the nearby Mokelumne River, the news station reported.

Trop said she and Johnson had spent the weekend together in Los Angeles before he returned to Northern California, making stops in Las Vegas and Mammoth.

They were out of touch for 12 hours during his trip, Trop told KCRA, but he messaged her at 2 a.m. to apologize for not reaching out, saying his cellphone had died and he was navigating tricky and icy roads after the sun went down.

"I had a great time before it got dark," Johnson texted, according to the affiliate. "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."

CNN's Jenn Selva contributed to this report.

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