NPS - National Park Service

08/02/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 08/02/2021 18:23

Search for Matthew Thoke in Sequoia National Park Moving to Limited Continuous Mode

News Release Date:
August 2, 2021

Contact:Rebecca Paterson, (559) 702 3400

SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS, Calif. August 2, 2021 - For the past 12 days, an extensive search has been underway in Sequoia National Park for Matthew Thoke, 43, of Newport Beach, CA. The search for Thoke is scaling back to limited continuous mode. This means that while searching will continue, the large number of resources and personnel that have been dedicated to this effort will be reduced. The search will remain in limited continuous mode until Thoke is found.

Thoke deliberately parted ways with his hiking group at Bearpaw Meadow on July 21, with the stated intention of hiking out to Crescent Meadow via the High Sierra Trail on his own. Thoke was last seen at about 1 p.m. that day, at which time he was traveling downhill and south off of the High Sierra Trail, about three miles east of the Crescent Meadow Trailhead, leaving his pack behind. The search was initiated that afternoon after Thoke failed to return to his pack.

Approximately 75 people have been involved in the search for Thoke. The parks have utilized a broad range of search techniques, including ground search and rescue teams deployed for multiple days, aerial searches via helicopter and unmanned aerial systems, infrared flights, canine search teams, trail containment, technical/mountaineering searches, and investigations. Despite these efforts, Thoke's whereabouts remain unknown.

Ground searchers have been challenged throughout the process by terrain so steep, densely vegetated, and full of tripping and slipping hazards as to often be impassable even for skilled and experienced searchers.

'The decision to transition to limited continuous mode on this search is made with the utmost gravity and with tremendous compassion for Matthew's friends and family,' says Clay Jordan, superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. 'We ask that the public and press respect the family's privacy in this extremely difficult time.'

Search efforts have been led by Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks with the assistance of Tulare, Fresno, Los Angeles, and Alameda County Sherriff's Offices, Yosemite, Joshua Tree, and Pinnacles National Parks, Sierra Madre Mountain Rescue, the Bakersfield Police Department, California National Guard, California Office of Emergency Services, and the US Forest Service.

Thoke is six feet tall, 160 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing an orange t-shirt, blue shorts, and a pink hat. Anyone who was in the area where he was last seen on or around July 21 is urged to contact Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Dispatch at 888-677-2746 or [email protected]

This is the final news release about this search and rescue operation unless new information becomes available.