Large-Scale Search Ends for Davey G. Johnson, Missing Car and Driver Journalist and Jalopnik Alum

Illustration for article titled Large-Scale Search Ends for Davey G. Johnson, Missing Car and Driver Journalist and Jalopnik Alum
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For the past two weeks, the close-knit community of automotive writers and aficionados of speed everywhere have been hoping for good news about Davey G. Johnson, the Car and Driver writer and Jalopnik alum who went missing on a motorcycle trip in California. Unfortunately, as of today, it seems that good news may not arrive.


The massive search and rescue effort for Johnson was officially called off today, according to the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office. The office said it continues to look for Johnson, but “large scale search efforts have been suspended pending further information or leads.”

Johnson’s friend Abigail Bassett, a fellow automotive journalist who had taken point on reporting updates, said on Twitter this afternoon that following 10 days of searching, there are no new details nor information about his disappearance. Authorities are now calling this an accidental drowning and say Johnson likely went into a river of his own accord. There is no evidence of foul play, the sheriff’s office has said.

Johnson, 43, went missing on June 5 during a motorcycle trip from Las Vegas to his home in the Sacramento area. He was riding a Honda CB1000R as part of a story for Motorcyclist when he disappeared along California Route 49. The bike was later found at a rest stop near the Mokelumne River, according to Car and Driver. Johnson’s gear, computer, phone and wallet were later discovered near the riverbank.

“He had texted a friend, appending a few photos, at around 8:30 that morning saying he was sitting near that creek,” his friend and colleague John Pearley Huffman wrote for the magazine. “Anything beyond that is speculation.”

The sheriff’s office, multiple other first responder agencies and dozens of volunteers spent the past 10 days searching nearly 450 miles.


Johnson wrote for Jalopnik in some of its earliest years, from 2005 to 2007. To call him a pioneering auto enthusiast on the internet is an understatement. A vibrant storyteller whose love of adventure was matched by his deep technical knowledge about cars and bikes, his writing was vital in establishing this website’s tone and voice early on. Without him, we would not have DAF vs. FAF, epic paeans to Soviet cars, thrilling escapades on the road or the fun-filled, run-what-ya-brung spirit that represents Jalopnik at its best.


Johnson took that same inimitable talent to Car and Driver, Autoweek, Motorcyclist and other publications. He and his work are deeply respected in this community, and by readers across the world.

We will have more to say about Davey Johnson in the coming days, but for now, please keep his friends and family in your thoughts. In the meantime, anyone with additional information is asked to call the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office at (209) 754 6500, or its Investigations Tip Line at (209) 754-6030.

Editor-in-Chief at Jalopnik. 2002 Toyota 4Runner.



Davey was my best and only friend from k-6th grade and really gave credence to the final words in the movie Stand By Me, “I never had any friends later on like I had when I was 12.” Rather, I am 43 now and I still have never found a friend quite like him later in life. Sadly I will never get to tell him face to face that he was the reason I am the automotive photographer I am today now living in Japan. He reached out to me after 27 years at the lowest point in my life and really became the beacon of hope for me that I could achieve great things too. Even though my work is published to a wide audience here in Japan, it was that audience of one that I cared about, waiting for that thumbs up or quirky remark he would make to one of the car photos I posted on instagram or facebook. I trust I will see him on that road we all find, probably giving me a hand fixing whatever brown German mechanical money pit I bought. I will miss you my dear friend.