Calif. Search for Missing Marine Scaled Back After 3 Weeks - NBC Southern California
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Calif. Search for Missing Marine Scaled Back After 3 Weeks

U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Matthew Kraft never returned from a hike in early March



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    Matthew Kraft

    Three weeks after a Camp Pendleton Marine went missing, the Inyo County Sheriff's Office announced Saturday the search for him has been drastically scaled back.

    U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Matthew Kraft, 24, went missing in late February during a solo ski and hike trip near the Kearsarge Pass Trailhead, roughly 110 miles east of Fresno, California.

    Kraft, who is from Washington, Connecticut, was believed to have started the trek on Feb. 24 with an itinerary to complete the journey by around March 4, according to ICSO.

    The search began March 4 when Kraft’s father called law enforcement after not hearing from his son. From there, the search grew, including assistance from the Marine Corps, seven county sheriff’s departments, two national parks, the California Highway Patrol and more.

    On Saturday, the massive multiagency search mission said it changed the search to a “limited continuous search.”

    ICSO said it will continue this limited search until Kraft is found.

    The road near the trailhead where Kraft was believed to be is currently closed for the winter and impassible because of heavy snow and rock fall.

    “Both aerial and ground searches have identified avalanche activity, cornices, and snow bridges throughout the wilderness,” ICSO said in a Facebook post.

    The entire search area was larger than the state of Rhode Island and consists of the 195-mile Sierra High Route.

    On March 8 at around 9 p.m., Kraft's rental gray 2016 Jeep Wrangler was found near Lower Grays Meadows Campground, above Independence, California, the ICSO said. Though, to date, ICSO said there are no substantiated clues that link Kraft to any particular search area.

    Search crews have also used technology able to find people buried in avalanches but have not found any signs of Kraft.

    On Monday, the agency’s Incident Information System will become inactive, meaning those following the search will no longer receive updates from the system.

    Anyone with information regarding Kraft’s whereabouts can call the following departments:

    • Mono County Sheriff’s Department: (760) 932-7549
    • Inyo County Sheriff’s Department: (760) 878-0383
    • Fresno County Sheriff’s Office: (559) 600-8400
    • 1st Marine Division press officer Capt. Paul Gainey: (760) 725-9226, or