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Bodies Of American Couple Found On Stricken Cruise Costa Concordia Finally Identified

//barbara gerald heil found costa concordia

Apr. 17 2012, Published 7:30 a.m. ET

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By Debbie Emery - Radar Reporter

More than three months after the cruise ship Costa Concordia sank off the coast of Italy, the two missing American passengers have been confirmed dead after their bodies were identified several weeks after they were found.

Barbara and Gerald Heil of White Bear Lake, Minnesota, were the only two U.S. victims to die in the accident that occurred on January 13, and on Tuesday their family confirmed their passing in an online statement, reported local paper the Hastings Star Gazette.

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“We will now be able to move forward and bring them home to rest,” read the Heil family blog. “The rescue and recovery crew on the island of Giglio have been relentless in their mission to find the missing and have given us hope through this whole process. 

“We cannot thank them enough for continuing to risk their lives in an effort to find our parents. Our hearts go out to the two families that are still missing loved ones. We will continue to hope and pray for closure for those families.”

As RadarOnline.com previously reported, the $450 million vessel crashed into a reef four miles off course near the island of Giglio.

Survivors described the chaos and panic on the ship as they desperately tried to escape, while Captain Francesco Schettino claimed he “tripped” into a lifeboat and was shuttled to safety.

Schettino remains on house arrest, despite denying he had anything to do with the disaster, which was reportedly the second time he’d crashed a cruise ship.

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Also identified on Tuesday were Christina Mathi Ganz and Norbert Josef Ganz of Muehlheim am Main of Germany, who had just celebrated their golden wedding anniversary, and Giuseppe Girolamo, a crew member.

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