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Family Of MN Couple Missing In Wreck Plans Memorial Service

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missing Minnesota couple, cruise ship, Italy

(credit: U.S. Embassy In Rome)

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WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — The family of a Minnesota couple missing in the Italian cruise ship disaster have announced they will hold a memorial service in memory of their parents, after news that the search has been called off.

Members of the Jerry and Barbara Heil family of White Bear Lake posted a new blog titled “The Search is Over” on Tuesday, stating in part, how grateful they are to the rescuers who tried to find their parents.

“We are certainly disheartened to hear this news but understand and accept the decision to bring the search operation to a halt. We cannot express enough our sincere gratitude to all those involved in the search and rescue effort. Time and time again, the rescuers faced many perils in the hopes of reuniting the missing with their families,” the blog states. “We will be forever grateful for all those who worked so hard for people they did not even know, yet understood how important their job was for those that remained waiting for news.”

The Heils said they are currently planning a memorial service for their parents in the coming weeks, in an effort to celebrate their lives.

“As we struggle to come to grips with this tragedy, we find comfort knowing Mom and Dad are now in a better place free from any worries,” the blog states. “They have always been obedient to God’s plan and now we must do the same.”

Italian emergency officials decided to end the search due to the danger to rescue workers.

Seventeen bodies have been recovered. Sixteen people are listed as missing but are presumed dead.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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