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Search for Camp Pendleton Marine, missing on Sierra Nevada hike, is scaled back

Search for Camp Pendleton Marine, missing on Sierra Nevada hike, is scaled back
Camp Pendleton Marine 1st Lt. Matthew Kraft remains missing in the Sierra Nevada. Authorities said on Saturday they are scaling back search efforts. (Courtesy photo)

Authorities who have searched since March 4 for a Camp Pendleton Marine missing on a Sierra Nevada trek announced Saturday that they are curtailing their efforts.

Inyo County sheriff’s officials said they will transition to a “limited continuous search status” until 1st Lt. Matthew Kraft, 24, from Washington, Conn., is found.

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The sheriff’s website has posted updates on the search efforts through extreme weather conditions, but officials said there will be no more updates after Monday.

Kraft went missing after setting out on what he planned as a 10-day solo hiking and skiing trek across the Sierra High Route, which stretches from Kings Canyon National Park northward to Yosemite National Park. The 195-mile route, along elevations from 9,000 feet to 12,000 feet, is covered in deep snow during the winter.

Kraft was to begin his trip on the Kearsarge Pass Trail on Feb. 23 and end it near Bridgeport in Mono County on March 4 or 5, authorities said.

When he failed to contact anyone by then, his father called the Mono County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies there checked trailheads and traced Kraft’s last cell phone activity to the Independence area of Inyo County.

Kraft’s gray, two-door 2016 Jeep Wrangler was found March 8 near Lower Grays Meadows above Independence. Inyo County deputies took over the search, aided by search and rescue teams, the Marine Corps, Air National Guard and other county, state and federal agencies.

Inyo County authorities said avalanche conditions, snow bridges and high winds have hampered the searches covering an area the size of Rhode Island.

Anyone with information about Kraft’s whereabouts may contact the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office at (760) 878-0383, option 4; the Mono County Sheriff’s Office at (760) 932-7549, option 7; or the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office at (559) 600-8400.

Repard writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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