1st Lt. Matthew Kraft (copy)

1st Lt. Matthew Kraft. 

A multiagency search in California's rugged Sierra Nevada mountains for a missing Marine who graduated from The Citadel in 2016 has been suspended.

Officials confirmed the search was moved off active status on Saturday. First Lt. Matthew Kraft, a 24-year-old from Washington, Connecticut, set out on a solo ski and hike trip of the 195-mile Sierra High Route on Feb. 24. He was reported missing on March 4 after his father did not hear from him.

"Beginning today the search operation will transition into a limited continuous search status until Kraft is found," according to a statement.

Kraft's phone signal was last recorded in the Independence, California area and his vehicle was located at a campground above the small community, officials stated. 

Harsh conditions including snow instability and high winds presented "significant challenges," to crews searching an area determined to be larger than the state of Rhode Island, officials stated.

"Aerial reconnaissance and ground teams have been deployed to the search area; however to date there have been no substantiated clues that link Kraft to any particular search area," officials stated.

Aircraft with thermal and night vision capabilities were deployed but were not able to find any activity linked to Kraft, officials stated. Crews also deployed the RECCO Rescue System, an electronic device used to find people buried by avalanches.

"The Marine Corps, along with the other assisting agencies, will continue to stand by and support Kraft's family, friends and Marines during this difficult time," officials stated.

Anyone who was in the search area — between Independence and the Twin Lakes area near Bridgeport, California — on or around Feb. 23, and believes they may have seen Kraft, is encouraged to call 559-565-4286.

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Reach Gregory Yee at 843-937-5908. Follow him on Twitter @GregoryYYee.

Gregory Yee covers breaking news and public safety. He's a native Angeleno and previously covered crime and courts for the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, CA. He studied journalism and Spanish literature at the University of California, Irvine.

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