Family of missing cruise couple calls wait 'an extreme test'

1:21 PM, Jan 26, 2012   |    comments
Jerry and Barb Heil of White Bear Lake
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WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. - The children of a Minnesota couple missing in the Italian cruise ship disaster say the waiting has become "an extreme test" of their patience.

In a blog posting Wednesday, the children of Jerry and Barbara Heil of White Bear Lake, Minn., say they "so badly want Mom and Dad found" so they can be brought home.

Rescuers have found 16 bodies, with 17 people still unaccounted for. The Heil family says it's received no notification that the couple have been found.

Heil family members say they're monitoring search efforts in Italy firsthand. They say diving conditions "are undoubtedly making this a very slow process."

The Heils are the only Americans missing in the wreck. Their family says it has been praying for those searching and to express their gratitude.

Here is the full post from the Heil family blog.

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

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )

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