A body believed by authorities to be that of missing Sacramento County automotive journalist David Gordon Johnson has been recovered from the Mokelumne River.

Rangers from the East Bay Municipal Utilities District who were continuing the search for the 43-year-old Automobile Magazine writer discovered the body of a white male near the inlet of Lake Pardee Thursday afternoon, according to a Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office news release.

The identity of the deceased is yet to be confirmed, but detectives believe the remains to be that of Johnson.

“Prior to the discovery of the body, Sheriff’s Detectives pieced together circumstances and evidence which suggested that David Johnson may have entered the Mokelumne River and become the victim of accidental drowning,” the sheriff’s office said.

The discovery of the body likely concludes a two-week long, multi-agency search for Johnson, who was reported missing by his fiancee on June 5.

“It’s presumed he went into the water, faster and colder and deeper than usual due to seasonal snow runoff, to refresh himself after a long night’s ride, and that he was swept away,” fellow journalist Erik Johnson wrote for Automobile Magazine on June 17.

Johnson describes his friend and colleague as a man who had a passion for motorcycles and was deeply in love with his fiancee.

“But he was most passionate about life, and most of all the people he loved. I didn’t know him best, or longest, but I knew him. I feel lucky for it. I miss you,” Johnson wrote.

David Gordon Johnson was last heard from on the morning of June 5 while on a long-distance motorcycle ride through Sonora Pass.

Two days after Johnson was reported missing, the sheriff’s office initiated a search.

Johnson’s Honda CB1000R motorcycle was found parked at Big Bar River Access near Mokelumne Hill with the key in the ignition and gloves and helmet placed on the seat.

Other items and clothing belonging to Johnson were later found near the river, and tracking dogs identified his scent leading to the water’s edge.

Efforts were scaled back on Tuesday after an intensive search along the river utilizing boats and air rescue teams proved unsuccessful.

The investigation is ongoing, the sheriff’s office said. An autopsy will be carried out to determine the cause of death and confirm the identity of the deceased.


Dakota graduated from Bret Harte in 2013 and went to Davidson College, NC where she earned a bachelor's degree in Arab studies. After spending time studying in the Middle East and Europe, she is happy to be home, writing about the community she loves.

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