UC Berkeley Student Missing in Eldorado National Forest

By Mark Matthews and Wire Services
|  Tuesday, Jun 10, 2014  |  Updated 6:10 PM PDT
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A large search of a wilderness area in El Dorado County has been underway since Saturday for a University of California at Berkeley student who did not return to a family cabin after a hike, sheriff's officials said. Mark Matthews reports.

A large search of a wilderness area in El Dorado County has been underway since Saturday for a University of California at Berkeley student who did not return to a family cabin after a hike, sheriff's officials said. Mark Matthews reports.

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A large search of a wilderness area in El Dorado County has been underway since Saturday for a University of California at Berkeley student who did not return to a family cabin after a hike, sheriff's officials said.

Vernon "Cody" Matthews, 23, was dropped off in the Ice House area on Wednesday and last spoke to his mother on Friday before he went for a hike and has not been heard from since, according to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office.

Matthews was staying in the cabin by himself. An avid hiker and climber, he knows the area well but left all of his belongings at the cabin, sheriff’s officials said. His cellphone hasn't been used since Friday.

Matthews is 6 feet 3 inches tall, weighs 160 to 220 pounds, has shoulder-length strawberry blond hair and a full red beard.

Search and rescue teams from Placer, Nevada, Sacramento and Douglas counties are assisting in the search, using search dogs, mounted officers, off-road vehicles and hikers. The California Highway Patrol is also searching by helicopter.

Matthews is a senior in the Anthropology Department at UC Berkeley. He is listed as an officer in the school's Anthropology Undergraduate Association on the school's website.

Matthews also performs as a rapper under the name MC Thor, a reference to his long blond locks. His father, Vern Matthews, described his son as an adventurer.

“He’s our risk taker, he’s our daredevil,” Matthews said. “He’s a little absent-minded, and he’s compulsive, so it’s not unusual to see him get side tracked. But never like this.”

Friends on the Berkeley campus say Vernon Matthews is fearless, whether on stage as the MC Thor or in the mountains leading hikes.

“When I heard about this I was surprised, because he has good wilderness skills,” Solomon Nwoche said.

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