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Entries in Costa Concordia (3)

Tuesday
Apr172012

Minnesota Couple's Bodies Identified from Costa Concordia Wreck

ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images(ROME) -- An American couple was identified as two of the five bodies recovered from the Costa Concordia wreck on March 22.

Three months after the ship ran aground on the island of Giglio shortly after leaving port, the bodies of Minnesota couple Barbara and Gerald Heil were found. Two other bodies were identified as German citizens, Christina Mathi Ganz and Norbert Josef Ganz, along with Italian crewmember Giuseppe Girolamo.

Out of an estimated 4,200 passengers and crew onboard the ship on Jan. 13., 30 bodies have been found and two people remain missing.

Capt. Francesco Schettino is under investigation for allegedly steering the ship too close to the shore and then abandoning the ship while passengers tried to leave the sinking ship.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan182012

Minn. Community Prays for Retirees Missing in Italian Cruise Wreck

Laura Lezza/Getty Images(WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn.) -- Friends of missing retirees Jerry and Barbara Heil are planning a prayer service for the Minnesota couple, who haven’t been heard from since the cruise ship they were on capsized off the coast of Tuscany last Friday night.

On Tuesday, divers recovered five bodies from the wreckage of the Concordia Costa -- four men and a woman -- although it’s unclear if the Heils were among them.

“At this point we don’t have anything new to report,” said the latest posting on the Heil family’s blog.  “We will await word from the U.S. Embassy and Italian authorities on the newly discovered passengers.  Please continue to pray for the other families and the safety of the rescuers.”

The uncertainty has prompted a 24-hour prayer vigil at the church the Heils attend.

“The sense from fellow parishioners is that there is still a lot of hope,” said Dr. Larry Erickson, the parish administrator at the Church of St. Pius X in White Bear Lake.  The 1,500-member parish will hold a prayer service for the Heils on Wednesday night.

Sixty-nine-year-old Jerry, a retired state worker, and Barbara, 70, a cancer survivor, attended mass every morning, and would often come early to pray the rosary.  Their absence leaves a void.

“I see Jerry and Barb every day.  It’s a different kind of missing them right now,” said Erickson.

The Heils are parents to four grown children and have 15 grandchildren.  They are well known for their devotion to family and faith.  Friends describe them as a quiet couple who would volunteer to run church dinners, make meals for those in need and drive neighbors to medical appointments.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan162012

Retired Minnesota Couple Missing From Capsized Cruise Ship

ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images(PORTO SANTO STEFANO, Italy) -- The U.S. Embassy in Italy has put out a worldwide alert on Facebook for help in finding an elderly Minnesota couple who are among the few people still missing from the cruise ship that capsized this weekend.

Gerald Heil, 69, and his wife Barbara, 70, are the retired parents of four children and grandparents to 15 children. Their church in White Bear Lake, Minn., is holding a 24-hour prayer vigil and saying masses for the missing couple and their family.

“The U.S. Embassy is reporting 120 Americans were on the ship,” daughter Sarah Kim Heil wrote on Facebook referring to the capsized cruise ship Costa Concordia. “Two have been unaccounted for. Those two are my parents.”

The alert put by the U.S. embassy on Facebook, written in Italian and English, includes a photograph of the retirees and asks anyone with information regarding their whereabouts to email ItalyConcordiaUSC@state.gov.

Friends say Barbara and Jerry Heil had dreamed of their 16-day vacation and European cruise for a long time. But it has been three days since the massive cruise ship struck a rock and capsized, three days of terrifying silence for those who know and love the Heils.

Outside the suburban Minneapolis home of one of the Heil’s sons, a family spokesman released a statement saying, “We are waiting patiently for the rescuers to safely try to find our parents.  Our prayers and thoughts are with our parents; those others that are still missing and their families; and the brave rescuers.  We are working closely with the US Embassy in Italy and are confident that everything is being done to find our parents. ”

Family members have asked for privacy, but Sarah Heil told Chicago radio station WBBM, “They raised four kids and sent them all to private school, elementary to college, so they never had any money… So when they retired, they went traveling.  And this was to be a big deal—a 16 day trip.  They were really excited about it.”

The couple is well known in their neighborhood, and their church, where they attended mass every morning. Barbara Heil is a devoted member of a daily prayer group called the Rosary Club.

“They’re such a team,” said Dr. Larry Erickson, director of operations at the Church of St. Pius X, the Catholic parish the Heil’s have attended for the past 38 years. “You never see a cross look from them. They are always smiling, always gentle.”

As search crews and divers search for the missing, the Heil’s neighbors and fellow parishioners hold on to hope and prayer.

“Everybody has got a place in their heart and are still praying and hoping they’ll be found alive and well,” said Erickson.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio