San Diego

Crews Scale Back Search for Missing Marine as Efforts Enter Third Week

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

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 Marine was reported missing after he didn't return from a backcountry ski trip. NBC 7's anchor Omari Flemming has more.

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.

Camp Pendleton-based Marine First Lt. Matthew Kraft went missing during a ski trip in the Sierra Nevada region. He was supposed to return on March 4, but has not been heard from.

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
Contact Us