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White Bear Lake couple identified in Italian cruise wreck

White Bear Lake couple identified in Italian cruise wreck Click to Enlarge Photo:

Apr 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm

ROME (AP) - Italian officials say they have identified the bodies of an American couple and two German nationals who perished when the Costa Concordia cruise ship capsized.

In a posting on its website Tuesday, the Interior Ministry named Barbara and Gerald Heil of White Bear Lake, the sole American victims of the Jan. 13 disaster, as among the bodies retrieved from the wreck.

The ministry posting also identified Christina Mathi Ganz and Norbert Josef Ganz, of Germany, and an Italian crewman after weeks of DNA testing and other exams.

Divers are still searching the wreck for a female Italian passenger and an Indian crewman who are missing and presumed dead. The two have already been included in the death toll of 32.

Meanwhile, friends of Heils say the wait for news is finally over.

The White Bear Lake couple were active members of St. Pius the X Catholic Church and were known for their service to others.

Jerry Heil would visit Diane Vorland, who is confined to a wheelchair, every Thursday to bring her communion and recite the rosary. And he promised to drive Denny Hardy on errands after Hardy lost his license.

Vorland says it's good news that the Heils finally have been identified after so long, and that the news should give closure to the family.

Hardy says it's nice knowing that the Heils are now safely in the hands of God.

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