The mother of the teenager who died in the Titan sub disaster with his multi-millionaire father has revealed she had originally intended to go on the doomed voyage – but gave her spot to her son because he ‘really wanted to go’.
Christine Dawood and her husband Shahzada Dawood had initially booked a trip to the Titanic wreck for themselves but had to cancel due to the pandemic.
She said that when their family reserved spots on this year’s OceanGate Expeditions mission, she ‘stepped back’ because her son Suleman, 19, was so keen to go.
The family boarded the Polar Prince, the sub’s support vessel, on Father’s Day hoping for the trip of a lifetime. Mrs Dawood and her daughter Alina, 17, were still on board when word came through on June 18 that communications with Titan had been lost.
She and her daughter held out hope to begin with after they did not initially return – but admitted she ‘lost hope’ when 96 hours had passed since her husband and son boarded the submersible, which indicated they had run out of oxygen.
Her daughter held out a bit longer, she said, until a call with the US Coast Guard last Thursday when they were informed debris had been found – something they did not know about until that point. It then became clear that an implosion had taken place.
The US Navy had detected sounds ‘consistent with an implosion’ soon after Titan lost contact on Sunday, but it was deemed ‘not definitive’ and the detail was not released publicly – with the search and rescue mission continuing until debris was found.
Speaking about initially holding out hope, Mrs Dawood told the BBC: ‘We all thought they are just going to come up so that shock was delayed by about 10 hours or so.
Christine Dawood and her husband, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood, had initially booked a trip to the Titanic wreck for themselves but had to cancel their trip due to the coronavirus pandemic. The married couple are pictured together
Christine said that when their family reserved spots on this year’s OceanGate Expeditions mission, she ‘stepped back’ because her 19-year-old son Suleman ‘really wanted to go’. She and Suleman are pictured together
‘By the time they were supposed to be up again, there was a time…. when they were supposed to be up on the surface again and when that time passed, the real shock, not shock but the worry and the not so good feelings, started.
‘We had loads of hope, I think that was the only thing that got us through it because we were hoping and… there were so many actions the people on this sub can do in order to surface… they would drop the weights, then the ascent would be slower, we were constantly looking at the surface. There was that hope.
‘There was so many things we would go through where we would think ‘it’s just slow right now, it’s slow right now’. But there was a lot of hope.’
She said she ‘lost hope’ when 96 hours had passed since her husband and son boarded the submersible.
She revealed that is when she sent a message to her family saying she was ‘preparing for the worst’.
Her daughter held out a bit longer, she said, until the call with the US Coast Guard when they were informed debris had been found.
UK-based businessman Shahzada and Suleman were two of the five victims killed instantly when the submersible suffered a ‘catastrophic implosion’ just 1,600ft from the bow of the Titanic, according to the US Coast Guard.
Mrs Dawood revealed that she had planned to go with her husband to view the Titanic wreck in the OceanGate sub, but that their trip was cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.
‘Then I stepped back and gave them space to set [Suleman] up, because he really wanted to go,’ she said.
‘I was really happy for them because both of them, they really wanted to do that for a very long time.’
Mrs Dawood shared how she and Alina hugged and joked with Shahzada and Suleman before the pair entered the submersible.
Suleman, a student at Strathclyde University, had taken his Rubik’s Cube on the trip as he hoped to break the world record for solving the puzzle at the greatest depth, she revealed.
‘He said: ‘I’m going to solve the Rubik’s Cube 3,700 meters below sea at the Titanic’,’ Mrs Dawood recalled.
Her son, she said, was practical and intellectual, and wouldn’t go anywhere without his Rubik’s Cube – which he taught himself to solve it in just 12 seconds.
Christine Dawood revealed she had been ‘really happy’ for Shahzada and Suleman to embark on this journey together, adding that the teen had planned to solve the Rubik’s cube while 3,700 meters below sea
Suleman, (pictured) a student at Strathclyde University, had taken his Rubik’s Cube on the trip as he hoped to break the world record for solving the puzzle at the greatest depth. Christine recalled: ‘He said: ‘I’m going to solve the Rubik’s Cube 3,700 meters below sea at the Titanic”
‘Suleman did a 10,000-piece lego Titanic. He applied for a world record because he wanted to solve a Rubik’s Cube at the deepest point.
While his application was rejected, they were still planning to film the attempt.
Mrs Dawood said she and her daughter have vowed to try to learn to finish the Rubik’s Cube in Suleman’s honour, and she intends to continue her husband’s work.
She said: ‘He was involved in so many things, he helped so many people and I think Alina and I really want to continue that legacy and give him that platform when his work has continued and it’s quite important for my daughter as well.
‘Alina and I said we are going learn how to solve the Rubik’s Cube. That’s going to be a challenge for us because we are really bad at it but we are going to learn it.’
And the heartbroken mother said through tears: ‘I miss them. I really, really miss them.’
As well as her husband and son, three others died on board Titan: OceanGate’s CEO Stockton Rush, 61, British businessman Hamish Harding, 58, and Paul-Henry Nargeolet, 77, a former French navy diver and experienced Titanic diver.
Suleman Dawood, 19, was the youngest victim of the Titan sub tragedy. He is pictured with his father, Vice-Chairman of Engro Corporation Limited Shahzada Dawood
OceanGate’s Titan sub submerged at 8am on Sunday, June 18, around 400 miles southeast of St John’s, Newfoundland, according to the US Coast Guard. It lost contact at 9.45am but it wasn’t reported to the Coast Guard until 5.40pm
Mrs Dawood said those above water tried to remain hopeful, telling themselves: ‘There were so many actions the people on this sub can do in order to surface… they would drop the weights, then the ascent would be slower, we were constantly looking at the surface. There was that hope.’
She and her daughter held out hope to begin with after being they did not initially return.
She said: ‘We all thought they are just going to come up so that shock was delayed by about 10 hours or so.
‘By the time they were supposed to be up again, there was a time…. when they were supposed to be up on the surface again and when that time passed the real shock, not shock but the worry and the not so good feelings started.’
Despite the bleak outlook as the hunt dragged on, she said her teenage daughter never lost hope of her father and older brother’s rescue.
Billionaire adventurer Hamish Harding, who lost his life onboard Titan, is pictured looking out to sea before boarding the submersible
French Navy veteran PH Nargeolet (left) Stockton Rush (right), CEO of the OceanGate Expedition, also lost their lives on Titan
Alina’s mother said of her daughter: ‘She is such an incredible young woman, she is so self-aware.
‘She believes in science, and she really believe, just like if you board a plane, that the science, the mechanics, the engineering will work.’
Mrs Dawood said at 96 hours she tried ‘really hard’ not to show her daughter that she had lost hope.
After news emerged on Thursday that debris from the sub had been found, the family returned to St John’s in Newfoundland, Canada on Saturday.
Yesterday, they held a funeral prayer for Shahzada and Suleman, which Christine said had ‘helped’.
Paying tribute to her son, she admitted he had been a ‘mother’s boy’ but that he also ‘loved his father’.
Five people lost their lives onboard the Titan submersible after it suffered a ‘catastrophic implosion’ 1,600ft from the bow of the Titanic
When asked what the family’s last words to each other were, she told the BBC: ‘We just hugged and joked actually, because Shahzada was so excited to go down, he was like a little child.
‘He had this ability of childhood excitement, they were both so excited.’
Mrs Dawood and her husband met at university, she said, when she didn’t speak any English.
She recalled how the history buff knew more about her native Germany’s history than she did, and that he was obsessed with documentaries.
‘He would make us all watch David Attenborough, and the children loved it.
‘His enthusiasm brought the best out of me, and so I really learned to love history as well. He was really able to, through his knowledge, inspire and motivate others.’