Heil family schedules memorial after Italian shipwreckby Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The family of a White Bear Lake couple who remain missing in a Mediterranean cruise ship accident has scheduled a memorial service for later this month.
Gerald and Barbara Heil were among more than 4,000 passengers aboard the cruise ship Costa Concordia when it ran aground and capsized on Jan. 13. The ship was sailing too close to the shore of a Tuscan island.
Italian authorities recovered 17 bodies from the wrecked ship, but more than a dozen remain missing. Among them are the Heils, who were celebrating their retirement with an Italian vacation.
Searchers finally called off the effort to recover any more bodies of the missing passengers and crew late last month.
"We are certainly disheartened to hear this news but understand and accept the decision to bring the search operation to a halt," the family said in a statement last week. "We cannot express enough our sincere gratitude to all those involved in the search and rescue effort."
The family has scheduled a memorial Mass for the couple at the St. Pius the 10th Catholic Church in White Bear Lake, on Feb. 18 at 10 a.m. The family announced the service on the website where they've been updating friends and relatives about the unsuccessful search for the couple's remains.
That's the same church where family and friends held a candlelight vigil for the couple in January.