Among the passengers on the submersible vessel that was declared lost in the North Atlantic Ocean Thursday was a 19-year-old, Suleman Dawood, and his father, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood. But now Suleman’s grieving Aunt has come forward with a haunting revelation that her young nephew didn’t want to go on the doomed deep-sea voyage. According to NBC News, Shahzada’s sister Azmeh Dawood said the teen told another relative that he “wasn’t very up for it” and was “terrified” to visit the Titanic. He went anyway, as the adventure fell on Father’s Day. All five passengers on the doomed vessel on its way to the wreckage of the Titanic have been sadly declared lost at sea.
“I am thinking of Suleman, who is 19, in there, just perhaps gasping for breath … It’s been crippling, to be honest,” she said during a phone interview from Amsterdam, according to the news outlet. She also admitted to being devastated by news that the vessel had imploded, shattering hope for survivors. “I feel disbelief,” she reportedly said, overcome with emotion. “It’s an unreal situation.”
“I feel like I’ve been caught in a really bad film, with a countdown, but you didn’t know what you’re counting down to,” she added. “I personally have found it kind of difficult to breathe thinking of them.” Perhaps most tellingly, she said she would never have boarded the doomed Titan. “If you gave me a million dollars, I would not have gotten into the Titan.”
OceanGate released a statement on the tragedy on Thursday, according to CNN. “We now believe that our CEO Stockton Rush, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet have sadly been lost,” the statement read. They also thanked the sweeping, exhaustive rescue teams for their efforts. “This is an extremely sad time for our dedicated employees who are exhausted and grieving deeply over this loss,” they said in the statement. “We appreciate their commitment to finding these five explorers, and their days and nights of tireless work in support of our crew and their families.”
Finally, they offered their condolences. “This is a very sad time for the entire explorer community, and for each of the family members of those lost at sea,” they concluded the statement. “We respectfully ask that the privacy of these families be respected during this most painful time.”
News of the submersible’s fate finally came Thursday after the Coast Guard shared that they had located debris identified to be from the Titan. A spokesperson revealed they believed all five passengers had perished after what they termed a “catastrophic implosion,” following the vessel setting out on June 19. They lost contact about an hour and forty five minutes into the risky expedition.
The frantic, sprawling search was intensified by the fact that the vessel only contained a 96-hour oxygen supply. The world remained transfixed as the countdown began, continued, and finally ended with the discovery of the submersible’s debris. Azmeh expressed sympathy for those who tuned it for news, as well. “I feel very bad that the whole world has had to go through so much trauma, so much suspense,” she reportedly said of the tragic voyage.