Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, several agencies searching for missing Marine in the mountains

Local News

The car of a Camp Pendleton Marine missing during a ski trip in California’s Sierra Nevada was found Friday, the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office announced Saturday.

Inyo Search and Rescue team found 1st Lt. Matthew Kraft’s rental gray 2016 Jeep Wrangler coup around 9 p.m. near Lower Grays Meadows Campground, above Independence, California, the ICSO said.

Kraft was reported missing Monday to the Mono County Sheriff’s Office by his father after he failed to return from a backcountry skiing trip on the Sierra High Route, The United States Marine Corps 1st Division said.

His itinerary included hiking out of Kearsarge Pass, between Kings Canyon National Park and the John Muir Wilderness, on Feb. 24, and hiking out near the Twin Lakes area by Bridgeport Sunday or Monday, the USMC said.

Mono County deputies started searching for Kraft in the Bridgeport area Monday. Pings from Kraft’s last cell phone activity showed that he was in the Independence area in Inyo County, the MCSO said.

The ICSO started searching for Kraft Tuesday. Other agencies have since joined in the search for the missing Marine, including the Marine Corps, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, Sequoia and Kings National Park, Yosemite National Park, and the California Office of Emergency Services.

On Saturday, crews searched Onion Valley Road, spanning two miles from the Kearsarge Pass.

A snowcat – an enclosed truck designed to traverse the snow – was used to help volunteers navigate the area usually closed for the winter due to heavy snow and rock fall, according to deputies.

After some time, the team was unable to proceed their search due to avalanche concerns.

On Sunday, crews primarily used air-based search methods because of these dangerous road conditions.

Sequoia and Kings National Park provided a helicopter to assist crews in finding Kraft. The park begins at the top of Kearsarge Pass and extends for roughly 70 miles, deputies said.

Search and rescue teams will continue to search for Kraft for as long as the weather permits, the ICSO said. Another storm is expected to move into the area through the weekend.

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 paul.gainey@usmc.mil

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