Minn. couple among missing in cruise ship wreckby Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio,
Annie Baxter, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The children of a White Bear Lake couple say their parents are among the missing from a cruise ship that ran aground off the coast of Italy.
John and Sarah Heil told Chicago's WBBM Newsradio on Sunday the American embassy in Rome confirmed their parents, Gerald and Barbara Heil, remain unaccounted for.
The Minnesota couple appear to be the only Americans missing. Mark Toner, State Department acting spokesperson, said they are in contact with the Heil family and working with Costa cruise lines and Italian authorities to provide assistance in the search.
Sarah Heil said her parents had been looking forward to this trip.
"My parents have always wanted to travel. You know, they raised four kids and they sent them all to private school," she told WBBM. "This was going to be a big deal — it was going to be a 16-day trip. So they were really excited about it."
Heil told WBBM her parents have four children and 15 grandchildren. She says her family has sent photographs of her parents, as investigators requested.
The couple's son, Aaron Heil in Albertville, could not be reached for comment, but the outgoing voicemail message at his home says the family is waiting patiently for the rescuers to find their 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. The family will not be speaking with the media again until we have received additional information from authorities," the voicemail says.
The luxury liner Costa Concordia struck rocks or a reef off the Italian coast Friday. At the time, the more than 4,200 passengers were at dinner.
Anyone with information regarding the couple's whereabouts is asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rupa Shenoy is a general assignment reporter for MPR News.