Body of missing McFarland city manager found in Kern River

The silver Dodge Durango that missing McFarland City Manager John Wooner was driving was found submerged in the Kern River this week.
(California Highway Patrol)

The body of missing McFarland City Manager John Wooner was found this week inside a vehicle submerged in the Kern River, authorities confirmed Wednesday.

Wooner, 57, was last seen alive May 14 at Hillcrest Memorial Park, a cemetery in Bakersfield.

Sgt. James Nabors of the California Highway Patrol’s Bakersfield office said Wooner was traveling in a silver Dodge Durango on Highway 178, a winding two-lane canyon road, in an area full of rocks and boulders when, for unknown reasons, the vehicle exited the roadway in an area without guardrails.

“We don’t know if it was a deliberate act, if it was accidental, if it was mechanical or if it was DUI-related,” Nabors said. “None of those are known at this time.”

The vehicle had moss on it and had been in the river for “quite some time,” although the exact time frame is unknown, Nabors said.


The Bakersfield Police Department had previously offered a $5,000 reward for information on Wooner’s location.

Angela Monroe, a public information officer with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, said the coroner’s office has not yet determined a cause of death.