UPDATE: Italy Calls off Search aboard Sunken Cruise Ship

The search for 16 more people, including the parents of a St. Michael teacher, has been suspended by Italian officials due to the treacherous condition of the ship's hull.

The Heil family and the other families waiting for word on 16 people still missing aboard the Costa Concordia received devastating news from the Italian Coast Guard last night, as they have ended their search.

In all, firefighters and Coast Guard crew were able to recover 17 bodies, one of which has yet to be identified. But, the other 16 unaccounted for, including the parents of St. Michael elementary teacher Aaron Heil of Albertville, cannot be found due to perilous conditions.

According to the Associated Press, "Italy's Civil Protection agency said Tuesday that technical studies indicated that the deformed hull of the ship created too many safety concerns to continue the search." The article appeared in national and international newspapers yesterday, including the Boston Globe.

The Heil family was hoping crews would recover the bodies of Gerald and Barbara Heil of White Bear Lake, who have been missing since the ship ran aground off the coast of Giglio, Italy. More than 4,200 were on board when the Concordia struck a reef off the western coast.

The ship's captain has been charged in the incident.

Most of the crew and passengers were able to escape the wreckage by either getting on board lifeboats or jumping from the ship and swimming to shore, about 400 yards away.

Aaron Heil is an elementary teacher at in St. Michael, and lives with his family in Albertville. He has been on leave since the accident, while rescue workers worked to find the missing.

Members of the Heil family have been briefing the media and public via this blog, which was last updated about a week ago

Meghan Gutzwiller January 31, 2012 at 10:14 PM
such a tragic story :( My thoughts are with Mr. Heil and his family.
chuck huck February 01, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Thoughts and prayers with the Heil family, very sad day.


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