Final Update

Today we received confirmation that our parents, Gerald and Barbara Heil, have been positively identified as two of the five missing passengers recovered from the Costa Concordia several weeks ago.  We will now be able to move forward and bring them home to rest.  The rescue and recovery crew on the island of Giglio have been relentless in their mission to find the missing and have given us hope through this whole process.  We cannot thank them enough for continuing to risk their lives in an effort to find our parents.  Our hearts go out to the two families that are still missing loved ones.  We will continue to hope and pray for closure for those families.  We will not stop praying and following the news until they have found their loved ones as well.  Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.


We have so many people to thank.  We want to thank everyone in Italy who helped us find our parents and treated us with hospitality.  Thanks to our friends, colleagues, neighbors, family and loved ones who were always there for us.  Thanks to all those who we have never met who sent us words of encouragement and prayer.


We would like to thank the media for respecting our privacy.  This blog entry will be our last post and form of communication with the media.  We are very grateful for the wonderful articles and stories you did on our parents.  They were very special people and you shared this in a respectful manner.  We know our parents are together and are happy.  We look forward to the day when we can all be together again.


Thank you,


The Heil Family



Final Post

For all of those planning to attend Saturday’s memorial service, there will be a visitation beginning at 9:00 a.m. followed by the service at 10:00 a.m.

All of this will take place at St. Pius the X Catholic Church in White Bear Lake.  Memorials are preferred over flowers or plants and will go to special places and causes dear to our parent’s heart. The amount of support you all continue to show has been truly overwhelming and we cannot begin to tell you how much it has meant.

We would like to remind the media that the memorial service will be private and we will not be allowing cameras into the church.  Thank you for the respect you have shown our family and for respecting our wishes.

This will also likely be our last post on this blog.  Barring any substantial new developments in Italy we will no longer be providing public comment for the benefit of the media.  We will begin the process of moving forward with the grieving and healing process.  We continue to try and follow the example set forth by our parents as we accept God’s plan.

Thank you again for the of the prayers, cards, and support through a very difficult time.

The family of Gerald and Barbara Heil


Memorial Mass

Dear Family and Friends,

There will be a Memorial Mass celebrating the lives of Gerald and Barbara Heil at 10:00 o’clock in the morning on Saturday February 18th, 2012 at St. Pius the X Catholic Church in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.  We again would like to thank everyone for all the prayers, cards, and support you have shown us.  If for any reason, friends and family need to get in touch with any of us but are unsure of the best way, please feel to email us at the following address

To the media:  Thank you for respecting our privacy and the kind stories you have done about our parents.  The memorial mass will be a very special and emotional time that we wish to share with our family and friends.  We ask for your privacy during this service and we have asked the church that no cameras be allowed inside the facility that day.  Thank you in advance for honoring our request and respecting our privacy.


The Heil Family

The Search is Over

Today we can confirm that the official search for the missing passengers aboard the Costa Concordia has ended.  We are certainly disheartened to hear this news but understand and accept the decision to bring the search operation to a halt.  We cannot express enough our sincere gratitude to all those involved in the search and rescue effort.  Time and time again, the rescuers faced many perils in the hopes of reuniting the missing with their families.  We will be forever grateful for all those who worked so hard for people they did not even know, yet understood how important their job was for those that remained waiting for news.  As we struggle to come to grips with this tragedy, we find comfort knowing Mom and Dad are now in a better place free from any worries. They have always been obedient to God’s plan and now we must do the same.

For our family and friends; plans are currently underway to hold a memorial service in the coming weeks to celebrate the lives of our parents.  We will update you all with additional details regarding the service when they become available.  Thank you all for your continued prayers and support.

The family of Gerald and Barbara Heil


The search continues..

As the days come and go we find this to be such an extreme test of our patience.  We so badly want Mom and Dad to be found so we can bring them home.  The last few days have yielded the recovery of several passengers but we have received no notification that they have located Mom and Dad.  We continue to monitor first-hand the ongoing search efforts taking place in Italy.  The conditions in which the divers are forced to operate are undoubtedly making this a very slow process.  Currently, the area of the ship they are searching which they believe could be where many of the missing are located is in 60 feet of water.  As a result it takes them significant time to get to the area to search.  In addition, due to the depth and the fact that they are inside the ship, they are searching in complete darkness and the visibility is approximately one foot.  We can only imagine that much of their searching must be done ‘by feel’ inside a ship that is over 900 feet long and may have up to 17 floors.  Lastly, as a result of the depth they are in, divers are required to go through decompression after completing their dive which helps ensure their safety but also increases the time until that specific diver can go down again.  The term, “needle in a haystack” certainly seems like an appropriate comparison.  We continue to pray for the safety of those searching and express our sincere gratitude for all of their efforts.


Thank you for your continued prayers and all of the support you have shown,

The Heil Family


Unfortunately this has become a recurring theme the last few days.  We continue to wait for news that our parents have been found but for now, we continue to wait.  We find comfort in the fact that everyday we see first hand how hard the Italians continue to work to find Mom and Dad.  We hope the ongoing effort continues to find more passengers so their families can be reunited with their loved ones.  Thank you for your continued prayers and support.

Search Continues

Today, our family in Italy along with some families of the other missing people had a meeting with the Captain in charge of the rescue and the man in charge of the investigation.  We were able to speak with some of the divers and thank them personally for their hard work.  We were able to have some direct conversations with the Captain of the rescue effort.  He indicated that he was not ready to give up and understood the importance of continuing the search for all of the families with loved ones still missing.

The rescue workers believe they are reaching a portion of the ship that they haven’t been able to get to until now and feel that it likely will produce more of those still missing.  We hope that tomorrow’s search may provide answers for those of us still waiting.

This afternoon we joined some other people missing family members and were taken out near the ship and allowed to place flowers pretty close to the boat.  We picked daisies for Mom and white roses for Dad.  It was very emotional as all of the workers stopped what they were doing and saluted us all as we placed the flowers in the water.

We do know that they recovered a woman today in the ship however we have not been made aware of her identity at this point.  We continue to pray for the missing, their families, and all of the brave rescuers as they continue to work so very hard in the face of an overwhelming challenge.



Incredible Effort

We continue to be overwhelmed by both the United States Embassy in Italy and the Italian authorities for all they have done in the search for the missing.  At this time, our parents still remain unaccounted for but our family members in Italy continue to witness first-hand the tireless effort being put forth by the Italians in an effort to continue searching.  We have witnessed them work tirelessly and around the clock in an effort to continue the search as conditions allow.  We continue to pray that all of those involved in the rescue operation remain safe and that all of the missing can be found.


We continue to wait for news

It has been confirmed to us that our parents WERE NOT among the five passengers that were recovered yesterday.  We continue to pray and hope for advantageous conditions which will allow the search and rescue operations to continue.  While it is certainly hard for us to see the recovery efforts stall due to the unstable conditions present at and around the Costa Concordia , we are also very concerned for the safety of the Italian Coast Guard as they continue to put forth a heroic effort in trying to find those who remain missing.  We are grateful to all of those who are working so hard to find our parents.

As we receive additional information, we will continue to update this site.

Nothing new

At this point we don’t have anything new to report.  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.  We want to thank the press for their patience and continued privacy.