(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – The wife and mother of a billionaire and teenage boy who died in the Titan submersible has said she gave up her place on the voyage because her son wanted to go.
Christine Dawood, lost her husband, Shahzada Dawood, and 19-year-old son, Suleman, after the sub they were travelling on to view the Titanic wreck imploded in the Atlantic Ocean.
Speaking to the BBC in Saint John’s Newfoundland, where the vessel embarked last Sunday, Ms Dawood, who had been on the search boat with her daughter looking for her loved ones, said: “I lost hope when we passed the 96 hours mark – that’s when I lost hope.
“That was when I sent a message to my family on shore and said ‘I’m preparing for the worst’.”
In her first interview since the tragedy, Mrs Dawood said she had originally planned to explore the Titanic wreck with her husband, but the trip was cancelled because of Covid.
She then said she “stepped back” from the voyage to allow Suleman to take her place “because he really wanted to go.” Her comments contradict previous reports that the teenager was “terrified” before the trip but went anyway as a Father’s Day present.
She said she never wanted to hear the sentence “we lost comm” – signalling the submarine had lost communication with the outside world – ever again.
Asked what her last words were to her husband, who was one of Pakistan’s wealthiest businessmen, and her son, she said: “We just hugged and joked actually, because Shazada was so excited to go down he was like a little child.
“He had this ability of childlike excitement so they both were so excited.”
Suleman, she added, would not go anywhere without his Rubik’s Cube and even took it on board the vessel, in the hope of setting a world record of the deepest solving.
“He used to teach himself through YouTube, how to solve the Rubik’s Cube and he was really fast at it. I think his best was 12 seconds or something like that.”
It comes as the US Coast Guard ordered a far-reaching inquiry into the disaster which could lead to criminal and civil action being taken against those held responsible.
It has convened a Marine Board of Investigation (MBI) – the highest level of investigation conducted by the US Coast Guard.
Captain Jason Neubauer, who will head the inquiry, said its main task is to report on the cause of the accident which claimed five lives.
“The MBI, however, is also responsible for accountability aspects of the incident,” he said.
“And it can make recommendations to the proper authorities to pursue civil or criminal sanctions as necessary.
“However, any subsequent enforcement activities would be pursued under a separate investigation.”
Other maritime safety bodies, including Britain’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch, can also request to take part in the inquiry, Capt Neubauer continued.
Canada’s Transportation Safety Board announced on Saturday that it had launched its own inquiry. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is also examining the circumstances surrounding the disaster.