Search for Marine Reported Missing After Ski Trip Continues

This undated photo provided by the U.S. Marine Corps, 1st Marine Division, shows missing Marine 1st Lt. Matthew Kraft. Authorities in California searched for a sixth day, March 9, 2019, for Kraft after he failed to return from a backcountry skiing trip through the Sierra Nevada. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Marine Corps via AP)
This undated photo provided by the U.S. Marine Corps, 1st Marine Division, shows missing Marine 1st Lt. Matthew Kraft. Authorities in California searched for a sixth day, March 9, 2019, for Kraft after he failed to return from a backcountry skiing trip through the Sierra Nevada. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Marine Corps via AP)

Search and rescue teams from 13 agencies continued to search Thursday, March 14, for a 24-year-old Marine infantry officer who on Feb. 23 undertook a 10-day, nearly 200-mile backcountry ski trip along the Sierra High Route.

During the ninth day of the rescue effort, teams from the Inyo County and Mono County sheriff's offices continued aerial reconnaissance of trails surrounding Kearsarge Pass and Onion Valley Road. The pass was where 1st Lt. Matthew Kraft had planned to start his trip.

Search and rescue teams also conducted surveillance near Big Pothole Lake, said Carma Roper, spokeswoman for the Inyo County Sheriff's Department.

Air support came from China Lake Naval Weapons Base and the Marine Corps. The Army National Guard also has been flying the route daily with thermal imagery. Several "points of interest" were found from the aerial reconnaissance but turned out be animal dens.

"Backcountry snow instability and high winds have been a significant challenge," Roper said. "Both aerial and ground searches have identified multiple avalanches."

Kraft is serving with the 1st Battalion/7th Marines at Twentynine Palms and is based out of the 1st Marine Division headquartered at Camp Pendleton.

His itinerary began out of the Kearsarge Pass trailhead Feb. 23, with the trip scheduled to end March 4 or 5 near Bridgeport, said Capt. Paul Gainey of the 1st Marine Division.

The search for Kraft began March 4 after his father contacted the Mono County Sheriff's Office after not hearing from his son. A sheriff's team first looked for him at trailheads in the Bridgeport area. Inyo County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue began a search March 5.

The Marine Corps is committed to finding him, Gainey said on Wednesday.

This article is written by Erika I. Ritchie from Orange County Register and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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