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Hastings woman waits for news of missing parents after shipwreck

People across the country are waiting to hear news of an American couple from White Bear Lake that were on board a cruise ship that ran aground off the coast of Tuscany, Italy, Jan. 13. A Hastings woman is among them.

Sara Heil, the daughter of Gerald and Barbara Ann Heil, is in Italy with at least one other family member, waiting at the scene of the shipwreck for divers to recover those who remain missing.

According to the U.S. Embassy to Italy, there were 120 Americans on the ship, the Costa Concordia. Of those, only the Heils have yet to be found.

Sara Heil and others of her family created a blog where they have been posting updates, but as of yet have had little news of their parents to report. Meanwhile, they continue to talk with rescuers and families of other missing passengers and pray.

"This afternoon we joined some other people missing family members and were taking out near the ship and allowed to place flowers pretty close to the boat," the Heil family wrote Saturday, Jan. 21. "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."

Although divers have been able to recover some bodies from the wreckage, the Heils have not been identified.

"We continue to wait for news that our parents have been found but for now, we continue to wait," the Heil family wrote Monday. "We find comfort in the fact that every day 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."

To follow the Heil family's search, go to