Mother of Titan Submersible Victim Gave ‘Excited’ Son Her Spot on Doomed Vessel

Mother of Titan Submersible Victim Gave ‘Excited’ Son Her Spot on Doomed Vessel
(Left) Suleman Dawood. (Engro Corporation Limited via AP); (Right) Shahzada Dawood. (SETI Institute via AP)

The wife and mother of Titan submersible victims Shahzada Dawood and Suleman Dawood originally planned to make the trip with her husband but gave the spot to her 19-year-old son because he was “so excited” about the project and “really wanted to go.”

Christine Dawood told the BBC on Monday that she had initially planned to embark on a deep-sea trip to view the Titanic wreck together with her husband years ago, but that trip was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dawood said both her son and husband wanted to view the famous shipwreck “for a very long time,” and when the couple initially planned the trip, her son was so disappointed because he was too young at the time to make the trip.

“He was like, ‘But I want to go’ and ‘Why am I not old enough,'” Dawood said, adding that it was “supposed to be Shahzada and I going down.”

“But then I stepped back and gave the space to Suleman because he really wanted to go,” she said.

Asked how she felt now about giving her spot on the submersible to her son, an emotional Dawood declined to answer and said: “Let’s just skip that.”

Dawood also revealed that her son did not go anywhere without his Rubik’s Cube and had an unusual goal in addition to seeing the Titanic wreckage.

“He said, ‘I’m going to solve the Rubik’s Cube at 3,700 meters below ground, below sea, at the Titanic,'” Dawood quoted her son as saying, adding that they had brought a camera to capture the moment.

The 19-year-old teenager was so excited about it that he even applied to the Guinness World Records to become the first person to solve the 3-D combination puzzle at the deepest point near the world-famous shipwreck. The application, however, got rejected, Dawood noted.

‘I Lost Hope’

Dawood was together with her 17-year-old daughter on board a support vessel when staff told her that they got word communications were lost with the submersible carrying her family.

She told the network that initially, she didn’t fully understand what it meant that the Titan submersible had lost contact with the ship an hour and 45 minutes into its voyage. It would be four more days before she learned the fate of her husband and son when authorities confirmed that the vessel carrying five people had imploded and there were no survivors.

“We all thought they are just going to come up,” she said. “That shock was delayed about 10 hours or so. There was a time … where they were supposed to be up on the surface. When that time passed, that is when the … worry and not so good feelings started.”

Dawood said she had “loads of hope” during the international search for the Titan, noting that it was the “only thing that got us through it.”

“There were so many actions on the sub that people can do in order to surface,” she said of believing they may survive. “It was like a rollercoaster, more like a wave … We kept looking at the surface.”

Dawood said she “lost hope” when they passed the 96-hour mark, sending a message to her family that she was preparing for the worst. Her 17-year-old daughter was still hopeful until the call with the U.S. Coast Guard about finding debris from the Titan.


Following the catastrophic incident, Dawood said she and her daughter “promised ourselves we’re going to learn” to solve the Rubik’s Cube for Suleman, later adding, “I miss them … I really, really miss them.”

She also said that her family will work to continue Shahzada’s work. Shahzada was one of the richest men in Pakistan as the owner of the Dawood Hercules Corporation Limited, an investment company, with some estimates saying the businessman was worth hundreds of millions to billions.

“He was involved in so many things, he helped so many people and I think I really want to continue that legacy and give him that platform … It’s quite important for my daughter as well,” she said.

Investigators from the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, the French marine casualties investigation board, and the United Kingdom Marine Accident Investigation Branch are working closely together on the probe of the June 18 event that drew worldwide attention.

As the investigation intensifies, memorials and funeral services for the five people who died are expected to happen soon. Along with Shahzada and Suleman, those killed on the vessel were OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, who piloted the Titan; British adventurer Hamish Harding; and Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

A funeral prayer service was held early Monday in Karachi, Pakistan for Shahzada and Suleman. Prayers will also be held for them Tuesday in Karachi at the Dawood Foundation, the charitable organization at which Shahzada was a member of the Board of Trustees.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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