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26th Jun 2023

Mum of teenager on Titanic sub says she let son go on trip in her place

Charlie Herbert

Mum of teenager on Titanic sub says she let son go on trip in her place

He had planned to solve a Rubik’s Cube when they reached the wreck

The mother of the teenager killed on the OceanGate Titan sub has revealed he took her place on the vessel to go with his father.

Speaking to the BBC in her first interview, Dawood said she had planned to go with her husband to view the wreck, but the trip was cancelled because of the Covid pandemic.

She then “stepped back” and let her son take her space the next time because he “really wanted to go.”

Along with Suleman and his father Shahzada, three other people died in the disaster: British billionaire Hamish Harding, 58, OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, 61, French navy veteran Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77.

Communications were lost with the Titan one hour and 45 minutes after it set off on Sunday, sparking a race against time to find the 21-foot-long vessel that had just 96-hours of emergency oxygen and limited rations on board (although some have suggested the tragic outcome was known Monday).

The US Coast Guard announced Thursday that debris had been found on the seabed, 1,600 feet (488 meters) from the bow of the Titanic, leaving experts to determine “a catastrophic implosion of the vehicle.”

Dawood and her daughter Alina, 17, were on Titan’s support vessel, the Polar Prince when communications to the sub were lost.

“I didn’t comprehend at that moment what it meant – and then it just went downhill from there,” she said.

She revealed that Suleman had plans to break a world record when the vessel reached the shipwreck.

The mother explained that her son loved the Rubik’s Cube and was able to solve the popular puzzle in less than 20 seconds.

So, the teenager had applied to the Guinness World Records to try and break the record 3,700 metres below sea level.

His dad had brought a camera with them on the journey to capture the moment.

The family had all boarded the Polar Prince on Father’s Day, and Dawood said they had been making jokes before her husband and son got in Titan.

“I was really happy for them because both of them, they really wanted to do that for a very long time,” she said.

Dawood and her daughter stayed on the Polar Prince whilst the huge search for Titan took place.

“I think I lost hope when we passed the 96 hours mark,” Mrs Dawood said.

She said that’s when she sent a message to her family. “I said: ‘I’m preparing for the worst.’ That’s when I lost hope.”

She explained that Alina “didn’t lose hope until the call with Coast Guard. When they basically informed us that they found debris.”

The mother and daughter now both plan to learn the Rubik’s Cube in Suleman’s honour, and she plans to continue her husband’s work.

“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.

Related links:

How the Titanic sub might have imploded and what happened to the passengers inside

Ross Kemp turned down OceanGate sub trip due to safety fears

Titanic sub passengers will have ‘known hull was starting to crack’

Discovery Channel explorer refused seat on Titanic sub due to ‘safety concerns’

Student on board Titanic sub was ‘terrified’ about the trip and only agreed to go as a Father’s Day gift