The youngest person on the doomed Titanic submersible was reportedly “terrified” about the trip and only joined his father on the craft to please him.
Nineteen-year-old Suleman Dawood, who was studying at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, accompanied his businessman father Shahzada Dawood on the Titan deep-sea vessel because he was eager to please his dad over the Father’s Day weekend, the youngster’s aunt has said.
OceanGate Expeditions said on Thursday that the father and son “have sadly been lost” along with British billionaire Hamish Harding, French Navy veteran Paul-Henri Nargeolet and the submersible’s pilot and the company’s chief executive, Stockton Rush.
The US Coast Guard confirmed the tail cone of the deep-sea vessel was discovered around 1,600 ft from the bow of the Titanic wreckage during a press conference in Boston.
Rear Admiral John Mauger said further debris was also found, in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Newfoundland, that was “consistent with a catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber”.
READ MORE: James Cameron says submarine disaster reminds him of Titanic sinking
Shahzada Dawood’s older sister, Azmeh Dawood, told NBC News that her nephew “wasn’t very up” for the trip but felt he should go to please his father, who had a fascination with the 1912 shipwreck.
She said: “I am thinking of Suleman, who is 19, in there, just perhaps gasping for breath … It’s been crippling, to be honest. I feel disbelief. It’s an unreal situatioSulemann.”
Describing the last few days, Ms Dawood said: “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 said she’d found it difficult to breathe while thinking about her younger brother and nephew, adding: “It’s been unlike any experience I’ve ever had.”
She also said she would never have boarded the craft even “if you gave me a million dollars”.
Shahzada Dawood’s company paid tribute to him and his son after their deaths.
In a statement, Engro Corporation, the Pakistani conglomerate that Mr Dawood was vice chairman of, said: “With heavy hearts and great sadness, we grieve the loss of our vice chairman, Shahzada Dawood, and his beloved son, Suleman Dawood.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Dawood family at this tragic time.
“We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family, colleagues, friends and all those around the world who grieve this unthinkable loss.”