Christine Dawood was left heartbroken when her son Suleman, left, and husband Shahzada, centre, died in the Titan sub implosion (Picture: Murray Sanders/AFP)
A woman whose husband and son died on the Titan sub has revealed how the possibility of it imploding ‘never crossed her mind’.
When they stepped off the Polar Prince support ship and clambered into the OceanGate submersible, little did Christine know it would be the last time she would ever see them.
She described the adventure as ‘the big one’ for her family. But one hour and 45 minutes into their voyage to the seabed off the coast of Newfoundland on June 18 last year, Titan lost all contact.
For the next four days, Christine and her daughter Alina, then 17, endured a painstaking wait to see if Shahzada and Suleman would return to the surface.
That moment would never come and Christine’s husband of 20 years, her 19-year-old son and three others were killed in a catastrophic implosion.
Also among the dead were French deep-sea explorer and Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, British businessman Hamish Harding and Stockton Rush, the CEO of Titan operator OceanGate.
Suleman, 19, and Shahzada, 48, died together in June 2023 (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)
Debris from the Titan submersible was, recovered from the ocean floor near the wreck of the Titanic (Picture: AP)
Describing the moment they were told debris had been found and there were no survivors, Christine said she went out onto the deck with her daughter and burst into tears.
‘Until that moment we’d had hope,’ she said, speaking to the Daily Mail in-depth about the tragedy for the first time since it happened seven months ago.
‘We took some cushions with us and just sat there looking out at the ocean. We were both crying.’
She then turned to her daughter and uttered four words to her daughter: ‘I’m a widow now.’
‘Yes, and I’m a single child,’ Alina replied, before they both ‘cried even more’.
The Dawood family pictured together in Canada just days before the tragedy, from left to right: Suleman, Alina, Christine and Shahzada (Picture: Murray Sanders)
The family lived in Surrey and did ‘everything together’, Christine said, except when Shahzada would return to his native Pakistan, which has made the heartbreak that much more painful.
‘It’s the waking up every morning…’ she said. ‘Sometimes I still don’t believe it. The possibility of it [Titan] imploding never crossed our minds.’
Suleman, who would have turned 20 on Monday, was born via an emergency C-section in 2004 and Christine said she ‘almost lost him’.
‘I just thought he was this angel who was gifted to me,’ she said.
Christine Dawood has spoken in-depth publicly about her devastating loss for the first time since it happened (Picture: Murray Sanders)
‘He was an old soul – a people’s person who made everyone feel special.
‘I love being a mother. I have Alina, but I never wanted to be a single mother to an only child.
‘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.
‘He was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, which with him being a teenager says a lot.’
Suleman, pictured aged six, was ‘one of the kindest people’, his mum said (Picture: Murray Sanders,)
Following Suleman and Shahzada’s deaths, the family have not made graves for them – and instead taken solace in the fact they are now ‘part of the ocean’.
When Christine went to Singapore recently with Alina and Shahzada’s youngest sister, they stood in the sea together and agreed they ‘don’t need a grave’.
Christine said: ‘We stood there with our skirts draped over our arms and cried for 10 minutes straight. It was very, very cathartic. When I think of them now, they are just asleep down there [in the ocean].’
Suleman, who was a student at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, was ‘very aware of the opportunities his privilege gave him’, his mum said.
The Titan sub was operated by Stockton Rush’s OceanGate (Picture: AP)
She said that they had been planning the Titan trip since before Covid and that she was originally meant to go along with her husband but Suleman had since turned 18 and ‘wanted to go’ instead.
They set sail towards the site of the Titanic shipwreck in preparation for the dive, but Christine said she was suffering from seasickness and ‘hardly interacted with them’ the night before.
Both Shahzada and Suleman were overjoyed to be going on the sub, she said, describing her husband as ‘literally glowing’, despite the fact the adventure was ‘out of our comfort zone’.
With the benefit of hindsight, Christine said she ‘absolutely’ would have preferred them not to go on the sub.
‘But I can’t really say I would have denied them an opportunity like that,’ she said. ‘If they had come back up and nothing had happened, it would have been quite a different story to tell.’
Asked whether she has ill-feeling towards Stockton Rush for what happened, in light of all the safety warnings he allegedly did not heed before the fatal excursion, Christine said: ‘That’s what you call complicated.
‘There were a lot of people who showed us support during that time. So, anger at OceanGate? I don’t know. But Stockton is not my favourite person in this mess.’
She added: ‘It’s difficult because we don’t know exactly what happened as the investigation is ongoing. But I do feel angry.’
Three months after the incident, it emerged that the tragedy will be turned into a movie.
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She has spoken in-depth publicly for the first time since their deaths.