When a massive multi-agency aerial search in the High Sierras revealed heat coming from a snow-covered location along the Sierra High Route, family members of 1st Lt. Matthew Kraft were hopeful.
The infantry Marine, a platoon leader with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines at Twentynine Palms based out of Camp Pendleton, had undertaken a two-week backcountry ski trip along the 195-mile route beginning in the Inyo Forest near Lone Pine. The trip, which started Feb. 24 was to be done over 10 days, and Kraft, 24, notified family and the Marine Corps that he expected to arrive at Bridgeport March 4 or 5.
When Kraft didn't arrive as planned, a search began.
First Lt. Matthew Kraft, who has been missing in the High Sierra backcountry for more than a month, likely has died after being "overcome by severe winter storms," the Marine Corps concluded Thursday, April 11.
The search for the Marine lieutenant missing in the California mountains for nearly two weeks is being scaled back to a "limited continuous search status" since rescuers have been unable to locate him along his planned route.
1st Lt. Matthew Kraft, 24, was reported missing to law enforcement after failing to make his return date while skiing and hiking the Sierra High Route in central California. His itinerary began Feb. 23 at the Kearsarge Pass trailhead and he was scheduled to finish around March 4 or 5 at Bridgeport, California, according to a press release from the 1st Marine Division.