Two Americans remain missing today after their holiday of a lifetime ended in disaster aboard the capsized Italian cruise liner Costa Concordia.
Gerald and Barbara Heil, of White Bear Lake, Minnesota, scraped by as they raised their four children, but had finally saved enough to take a long-awaited trip to celebrate their retirement.
The couple's daughter confirmed today they are among 16 people unaccounted for after the boat smashed into rocks and sank on Friday night off the Italian coast, where emergency services have suspended their search of the partially-submerged cruise liner for survivors amid fears it is starting to slip into the sea.
Chicago’s WBBM Newsradio reports, Gerald and Barbara have four children and 15 grandchildren. The Heils' daughter, Sarah, told Chicago’s WBBM Newsradio the American embassy in Rome has confirmed their parents are still missing. 'Their embassy is concerned that they don't have them listed as checked in,' she said. Ms Heil said her parents had been looking forward to this trip for years.
'My parents have always wanted to travel,' she continued. 'They raised four kids and they sent them all to private school - elementary to college - so they never had any money so when they retired they went travelling and this was going to be a big deal. It was going to be a 16-day trip so they were really excited about it.'
Their son, Aaron Heil, said the American embassy has been helpful as the family waits, but they still don't have much information on the status of the search. Yesterday's dramatic rescue effort saw one senior crew member dramatically airlifted to safety.
The news came as Costa Cruises suggested the accident may be due to the captain's 'significant' error in judgement. The Concordia’s captain, Francesco Schettino, and first officer Ciro Ambrosio were detained on Saturday night at the police station in Porto Santo Stefano on the Italian mainland, as they faced continuing questioning about the events leading up to the disaster.