Jeff Block, buddy Blue are leaving their mark

By EJ Montini

August 25, 2012

Earlier this month, I wrote about the death of a good man who was also a good son and a good brother. It’s the kind of story we often do in the news business. What we don’t often do is cover the aftermath, in which the victims of such a tragedy seek, and sometimes find, grace.

This is about the aftermath.

Sometime in the late afternoon of July 25, while driving south on U.S. 60 out of Show Low, 57-year-old Jeff Block lost control of his Dodge Ram truck, leaving the roadway and plunging several hundred feet down the embankment.

The truck’s wreckage with Jeff’s body inside finally was discovered two weeks later, a few hours after I’d spoken to Jeff’s anguished father, Sherwin.

“To have a child be missing without any clues, without any rhyme or reason, it’s just … just a terrible thing,” he told me. “It surely is.”

Jeff was traveling with his all-white, blue-eyed wolf-mix dog named Blue. The dog had not been found when I initially wrote about the accident. The next day, Sherwin called to tell me that a team from Superstition Search and Rescue had returned to the crash site and located Blue’s body.

The day Jeff disappeared, he telephoned his father to say he was driving outside of Show Low and would be unable to get back to Phoenix in time for their scheduled dinner. The two of them were planning to drive to Colorado early the next day on a fishing trip.

When Jeff didn’t show up, his brother Dan flew in from California. He and his father drove the steep, treacherous stretch of U.S. 60 between Show Low and Globe.

“My father, brother and I were on that road in late May,” Dan told me. “Our father took us up to Greer for a fly-fishing get-together. It’s something we do regularly. My dad and my brother were heading out the next morning to go fly-fishing for my brother’s birthday. We drove the road to see if we could spot any signs of a truck going off. We saw some wreckage but it wasn’t his. You’re thinking maybe he was hurt, surviving and needed our help. But it’s extremely difficult to spot things.”

Even from the air.

Dan organized private flyovers of the area before the Civil Air Patrol got involved in the search. But Jeff’s truck isn’t the first vehicle to have gone off U.S. 60, and a number of the old wrecks are still visible. One of the volunteers searching for Jeff suggested the old wrecks should be marked so that spotters in airplanes can more easily find a recent accident.

“Then someone suggested painting big X’s using the color blue,” Dan said, “because of Jeff’s dog and because it’s not a color you see in the desert. Another friend said we could call the effort Project Blue, something we figure Jeff would like.”

(You can read more about it or make a donation at

In an e-mail after Jeff’s dog was found, Sherwin wrote to me, “Jeff and Blue will be cremated together and their ashes strewn on the Frying Pan River in Colorado, where Jeff and his brother Dan loved to fly fish. We’ll do that next year on July 30th.”

Jeff’s birthday.

“This has been a terrible ordeal for our parents, my sister and me,” said Dan. “Jeff was a great guy. Our family is close. But people have been very kind to us. We’ve made friends out of this, and we wanted something good to come out of a terrible experience. We have that with Project Blue.”

In Norman Maclean’s great novel “A River Runs Through It,” a father and two sons are bound together by faith, family and fly fishing, sort of like the Block boys and their dad.

At one point, the narrator of the novel, one of the brothers, says: “My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things — trout as well as eternal salvation — come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.”

Missing Ariz. man found dead in truck, police confirm

by Haley Madden – Aug. 10, 2012 05:41 PM
The Arizona Republic-12 News Breaking News Team

The body of Jeffrey Block, the Apache Junction man reported missing July 26, is the one found inside his truck, officials said.

Authorities found Jeffrey’s dog dead Thursday, said Commander Robert Cooper, a Superstition Search and Rescue spokesman.

Block’s family reported him missing July 26 after he failed to return home from a trip to Show Low with his dog, Blue.

The pickup truck and his body was found Wednesday in a Gila County canyon off U.S. 60.

Officials believe Block’s vehicle crashed, said Elias Johnson, a Pinal County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

Blue was found near the windshield of Block’s truck. The truck continued to roll about 600 to 800 feet below, Cooper said.

Block and his dog Blue were taken to a Globe mortuary. They will be cremated together and their ashes will be spread in Colorado on their grandfather’s property, Cooper said.

AJ man and his dog killed in truck crash — Found at bottom of Salt River Canyon by search team

By Christina Fuoco- Karasinski
The News

An Apache Junction man who vanished during a trip to Show Low was found dead Wednesday, Aug. 8, at the bottom of a Salt River Canyon after a car crash. His dog, Blue, was deceased with him.

According to Robert Cooper of Superstition Search and Rescue, it is unclear who found the bodies of Jeff Block and Blue, as well as his white Dodge Ram pickup near the bottom of a 1,000-foot canyon near mile post 295 in Gila County. Block and Blue had been there approximately two weeks.

Many people are coming forward to say they found Block because there was a reward, Cooper said.

Superstition Search and Rescue spent 11 days looking for Block and his dog. Cooper said it was difficult to see the crash scene because of the intense damage to the truck.

“All of us looked over that lookout point,” he said. “You can’t see the vehicle from anywhere on the road. We flew a helicopter over three passes in that canyon. The wreckage rested where other wreckage was. I can see why my helicopter didn’t recognize it. It blended in with dozens of other debris.”

Block’s family reported him missing after the 58-year-old, along with Blue, failed to return home from a trip to Show Low on July 25.

Cooper said soon after Block’s family reported him missing, the Superstition Search and Rescue Team received a “plea for help.”

“We got involved immediately,” Cooper said. “We personally passed out 3,000 fliers to people in Show Low, fliers to every business, pizza place. We made a big impact on that community.”

The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office Air Unit flew the length of the U.S. Highway 60 to Top of the World, east of Superior, as well as mountain access roads in Pinal County, searching for evidence of Block, a press release said. The results were negative. Cooper said that the PCSO didn’t do enough to help with the search.

“Pinal doesn’t care,” Cooper said. “Why didn’t they engage? It’s because they don’t care. If you don’t call back the family, you don’t care.”

Block’s family issued a statement on the website It said that as a tribute to Block, the family would like to collect donations on behalf of Superstition Search and Rescue (SSAR) and other charitable organizations involved in the search.

“Please help us applaud the efforts of SSAR, helping provide them with equipment and supplies for this and future S&R (search and rescue) efforts,” the family wrote.

“Everyone will be invited to attend when we present the funds to the SSAR group and other charities where my family and I can individually and personally thank each and every one of you for your help in searching for and finding our brother/son/uncle/friend.”

They are also collection funds to cover expenses of Block’s search and “final resting.” Cooper said that Block and Blue will be cremated together and their ashes spread in Colorado.

Finally, all other contributions will be pooled and donated to the organizations involved with the family in the last two weeks, and to the humane society in honor of Blue.

All donations may be made to Jeff Block Memorial Fund, the humane society or Superstition Search and Rescue, P.O. Box 3584, San Ramon, CA, 94583.