'X' marks the spot on old car wrecks in Arizona’s canyons - WNEM TV 5

'X' marks the spot on old car wrecks in Arizona’s canyons

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(Source: CBS 5 News) (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Driving along the roads that take you over Arizona's mountains you're probably unaware of how many cars litter the ravines and canyons below.

Many times new crash sites are camouflaged in piles of old wreckage making it nearly impossible to spot.  Now one group is working to "X" out any confusion.

In a dirt turnout along Highway 88 just north of milepost 218, Commander Robert Cooper briefed members of Superstition Search and Rescue on their mission.

 "We have four piles of cars down in this canyon.  Paint the cars, paint the hoods, paint anything that's large enough to see.  Any license plate you see go ahead and write that down," Cooper said.

After a quick prayer, the team hiked to the bottom of the canyon.

From the ridge it was hard to make out the first couple targets.  You could barely see what remained of a white pickup.  Just a few hundred feet west was another wreck.  The rust on the bottom of the truck made it almost invisible.  Something Cooper had come across before.

 In July 2012, Jeff Block and his dog Blue went for a drive and never returned home.

 "We immediately launched the helicopter and were searching the roadways we knew he was going," Cooper said.

Rescuers eventually discovered the truck two weeks later in Salt River Canyon.  It had rolled 800 feet to the bottom.

 "It was upside down, so we just saw the dirty, rusty, bottom. The debris matched all the other debris. It looked like something that had been there a long time,"  Cooper said.

 Later that year the group established "Project Blue" in hopes of expediting searches like the one for Block.

"In Arizona we've had people that have sat in the bottom of ravines for a week alive. If we can mark the old debris, we might be able to save lives," Cooper said.

 Cooper told CBS 5 he wants to turn this into a statewide project. He's working to spread the word in hopes other search and rescue teams will join in.

 Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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