Creative method will help searchers find new wreckage faster
By Bill Van Nimwegen
Last week Superstition Search and Rescue (SSAR) began work on “Project Blue,” an effort to mark and catalog existing auto wrecks along area highways. Using the volunteer organization’s considerable expertise and high-tech assets, SSAR is responding to a tragedy that visited one of Apache Junction’s residents almost two years ago.
On July 25, 2012, 58-year-old Jeff Block and his wolf/canine companion Blue, died in a canyon west of Show Low. Jeff and Blue were driving on US-60 on their way home to Apache Junction when Jeff lost control of his Dodge Ram truck and sent it plummeting into Salt River Canyon.
When Jeff did not show up at his home as planned, his brother Dan organized a search party with law enforcement and volunteer organizations to look for Jeff and Blue. A call went out over the internet to get leads on Jeff’s whereabouts and aerial searches began of a 6,000 square mile area along the highways Jeff had traveled.
Because of the area’s rough terrain and the many wrecks littering the canyons, it became obvious that the search would be easier if all the older wrecks along the route were marked with a big “X.”
Jeff and Blue were not found until August 8, after a grueling two week search.
SSAR was one of the local groups involved in the initial search and after Jeff’s body was recovered they returned to the site to recover Blue.
“Project Blue” was formed in 2012 as a non profit organization dedicated to improving the search and rescue efforts for people in vehicle accidents in remote areas. Its mission is to expedite searches by visually marking old wrecks with a large blue X and cataloguing the location with GPS coordinates so search teams will know which wrecks to pass by.
The color blue was chosen because it is not often seen naturally in landscapes and Blue was the name of Jeff Block’s dog.
SSAR uses its remote controlled quad-copter “Eagle 1” to search the remote canyons and locate the wreckage. Team members follow with paint to mark the wreck and establish the GPS coordinates.
Superstition Search & Rescue uses “Eagle 1” to search the remote canyons and locate the wreckage. Team members follow with paint to mark the wreck and establish the GPS coordinates.
Last Sunday’s effort was made on Apache Trail (SR 88) northeast of Apache Junction.
To learn more about Project Blue, visit www.projectbluex.com
Information about Superstition Search & Rescue may be found at http://superstition-sar.org.