Missing Person Alert SEKI 3/8 (Unresolved)
Posted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 9:41 pm
Here is the info:
https://www.facebook.com/InyoCountySher ... =3&theater
https://www.facebook.com/InyoCountySher ... =3&theater
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Yesterday seven Inyo Search and Rescue volunteers searched the upper sections of Onion Valley Road west of Independence, attempting to locate any sign of Lieutenant Matthew Kraft. Onion Valley Road is currently closed for the winter and impassible due to heavy snow and rock fall; in order to access the search area a snowcat was utilized to transport the team.
The team reached about 8,000 feet, approximately two miles from the Kearsarge trail head, where recent avalanche debris was observed covering the road; other smaller avalanches were also observed in several chutes across the road. Due to avalanche concerns, the team decided that it would be too risky to proceed. In addition to yesterday’s ground search, aerial reconnaissance was provided by Fresno County Sheriff, CHP H-80, CHP H-40, and Air National Guard. Aerial search crews noted several significant avalanches throughout the Sierra backcountry and along the Sierra High Route.
Today, searches will be primarily air-based. Ground searching has proven to be too dangerous due to snow instability and avalanche concerns. In addition to the above noted aerial support, Sequoia and Kings National Park will also be providing a helicopter. The boundary of Sequoia and Kings National Park begins at the top of Kearsarge Pass and extends for approximately 70 miles of the Sierra High Route.
Lt. Kraft’s itinerary was the Sierra High Route, which included hiking out of Kearsarge Pass on Feb 24h and hiking out near the Twin Lakes area by Bridgeport on March 4th or 5th. On March 4th 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 on March 4th; 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, 2019. Winter storms in the Sierra have made search activities extremely difficult. Matthew Kraft’s vehicle was located by Inyo Search and Rescue at 9:00pm on March 8th near Lower Grays Meadows (above Independence CA).
Additional agencies assisting in this search along the Sierra High Route include Marine Corps, Mono County Sheriff, Mono County Search and Rescue, Inyo County Search and Rescue, Inyo County Sheriff, Madera County Sheriff, Fresno County Sheriff, Sequoia and Kings National Park, Yosemite National Park, CHP H-80, CHP H-40, Air National Guard, and California Office of Emergency Services.
Individuals with any information regarding Kraft’s whereabouts should immediately contact Inyo County Sheriff’s Office at (760) 878-0383/ option 4; Mono County Sheriff’s Office at (760) 932-7549/ option 7; or Fresno County Sheriff’s Office at (559) 600-8400.
For additional inquiries, please contact the 1st Marine Division press officer Capt. Paul Gainey at (760) 725-9226 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6272/
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 https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1563/submit-a-tip.htm
Backcountry snow instability and weather issues (including high winds) have been a significant challenge. Both aerial and ground searched have identified avalanche activity, cornices, and snow bridges throughout the wilderness, including along the Sierra High Route. The search zone has been determined to be larger than the State of Rhode Island and consists of the 195-mile Sierra High Route as well as multiple points of potential exit.
In previous days, Inyo SAR was busy with aerial reconnaissance; areas covered included trails and surrounding area near Kearsarge Pass and Onion Valley Road. CHP Inland Division Air Operations assisted. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks performed searches via air along with on the ground in areas that were determined to be safe and accessible in the vicinity of Cedar Grove.
Future plans include inserting Inyo SAR and Mono SAR team members below Kearsarge Pass near Big Pothole Lake. Additional ground searches are also being coordinated by multiple agencies if searchers feel they can be inserted safely- avalanche issues will remain a point of concern.
I believe John Dittli, an HST member, is part of this group.Highly experienced alpine skiers and mountaineers with Mono SAR, Inyo SAR, National Park Service, and Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center personnel have been deployed to the search area. Searchers are continuing to look for any clue or evidence linking Kraft to a particular search area. Additional ground searches are also being coordinated by multiple agencies if searchers feel they can be inserted safely- avalanche issues will remain a point of concern.
In addition, aircraft with thermal imagery has been flying with several points of interest have been identified – all have been followed up on and have been determined to be animal related.