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Contact: Mike Theune, National Park Service PIO, 559-565-3704
Contact: Carma Roper, Inyo County Sheriff PIO
Contact: Capt. Paul Gainey, USMC Spokesperson
CENTRAL SIERRA NEVADA, Calif. March 11, 2019 – This is the sixth day of an intense multiagency search for missing Marine Corps 1st Lieutenant Matthew Kraft, a 24 year old man from Washington, Connecticut. 1st Lt. Kraft is 6’1” and 185 pounds.
1st Lt. Kraft’s planned itinerary is the 195-mile Sierra High Route; he is believed to have hiked out of Kearsarge Pass on Feb 24 with a plan of concluding his hike near the Twin Lakes area by Bridgeport, CA on March 4 or 5. Kraft commissioned as a Marine Corps officer on May 6, 2016. He graduated from some of the Marine Corps' most rigorous training including Infantry Officer Course and Winter Mountain Leaders Course.
On March 4, 1st Lt. Kraft’s father contacted Mono Sheriff after not hearing from his son. Mono County Sheriff’s Office began checking trail heads in the Bridgeport area that day. Cell phone forensics initiated by Mono Sheriff showed that his last phone activity was in the Independence area. Inyo County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue began a search on March 5. The evening of March 8, 1st Lt. Kraft’s vehicle was located at the Grays Meadows campground above Independence, CA.
Both aerial and ground search operations have been utilized; however, weather conditions in the Sierra have been a significant challenge. Additionally, both ground teams and aerial support have noted avalanche activity throughout the wilderness, including along the Sierra High Route.
“Snow instability will remain a challenge as search teams attempt to clear portions of the route,” stated Inyo Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Coordinator, Sergeant Nate Derr.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Incident Commander Dave Fox added “We know the public is very interested in helping with the ground search effort, but due to the extreme hazards in the search area, we are not requesting any outside units at this time."
Today the search plan includes air lifting two Inyo County Search and Rescue avalanche experts to the crest of Kearsarge Pass so they can begin to clear the route on the east side and assess avalanche risk for future search operations. On the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks side of the crest work continues to follow-up on possible points of interest and look for any new clues.
Air support is being coordinated with Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Fresno County Sheriff, California Highway Patrol, Air National Guard, and United States Marine Corps. Fresno Sheriff, Mono Sheriff, Inyo Sheriff, and Sequoia Kings Canyon National Parks are currently in Unified Command. Other agencies assisting include United States Marine Corps, Madera County Sheriff, Yosemite National Park, and California Office of Emergency Services. In addition, two Marines from Kraft's unit are assisting authorities with search efforts at the Search and Rescue Coordination Center.
For more information about this search please visit:
If you think you might have seen 1st Lt. Kraft or even been in the search area since February 23, please call 888-653-0009 or visit
Last updated: March 16, 2019