'When I think of them, they're asleep down there': Christine Dawood shares agony of losing family in Titan sub implosion

13 January 2024, 01:05 | Updated: 13 January 2024, 07:47

The Dawood family before the sub trip.
The Dawood family before the sub trip. Picture: Handout

By Emma Soteriou

Christine Dawood has shared the heartbreak she felt after losing her husband and son in the Titan sub implosion.

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Shahzada Dawood, 58, and his son Suleman, 19, were among five to have died after the "catastrophic implosion" of the Titan sub in June 2023.

OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush was on the trip along with UK billionaire Hamish Harding and French explorer Paul Henry Nargeolet, having paid $250,000 a head.

Crews spent five days hunting the missing sub down before they discovered debris on the ocean floor near the wreck of the Titanic.

Read More: 'Stockton is not my favourite person': Mum who lost half her family in Titan sub implosion reveals anger over tragedy

Ms Dawood said she and her daughter, Alina, had remained hopeful until the final discovery.

"The moment we knew they'd found debris and there were no survivors, Alina and I went on deck," Ms Dawood told the Daily Mail.

"Until that moment we'd had hope. We took some cushions with us and just sat there looking out at the ocean. We were both crying.

"I turned to her and said: 'I'm a widow now.' She said: 'Yes, and I'm a single child.' Then we cried even more."

She said the father and son duo had been so excited for the trip but "when I think of them now, they are just asleep down there [in the ocean]"

Read more: Titanic salvage mission scrapped after project leader killed in Titan sub implosion

Graphic explains how Titan submersible imploded

Ms Dawood explained that the family "did everything together", with her sometimes still struggling to believe what had happened.

"It's the waking up every morning that's... sometimes I still don't believe it," she said. "The possibility of it [Titan] imploding never crossed our minds. To lose a husband is terrible, but when you lose a child..."

She went on to say: "No parent should have to grieve for their child. It's unnatural. All of a sudden your purpose, your identity, is ripped away from you."

Suleman had been due to turn 20 this week, a milestone she said she would mark by remembering both him and his father.

She said her son "was passionate about wealth inequality and wanted to work towards a world where distribution of wealth was more balanced. I want the world to remember him like that".

Titan sub
Titan sub. Picture: Getty

The Dawood family had become fascinated with the Titanic after visiting an exhibition in Singapore in 2012.

Ms Dawood said they even visited Greenland in 2019 "because that's where the iceberg that sank the Titanic came from".

Talks on visiting the wreckage began the year before, in 2018, she said.

"I was supposed to go with my husband but, because of the delay with Covid, Suleman turned 18 and he wanted to go."

She said the family were "not risk-taking types" and that the Titan trip "was out of our comfort zone".

Ms Dawood remembered Shahzada looking "a bit like a swan out of water" as he boarded the sub while Suleman had been wearing his favourite hoodie.

"In hindsight would I have wanted them not to go?" she asked. "Absolutely - but I can't really say I would have denied them an opportunity like that.

"If they had come back up and nothing had happened, it would have been quite a different story to tell."