The 19-year-old Pakistani college student who was the youngest to die in the implosion of OceanGate’s Titan submarine was “terrified” about going on the deep-sea journey to the Titanic wreckage, his aunt has revealed.
Azmeh Dawood, in an interview with NBC News, said her nephew, Suleman Dawood, also informed a relative that he “wasn’t very up for it” but went on the excursion anyway because it happened over Father’s Day weekend, and his dad Shazada, whom he wanted to please, was passionate about the sunken ocean liner.
“I am thinking of Suleman, who is 19, in there, just perhaps gasping for breath… It’s been crippling, to be honest,” Azmeh Dawood told the network.
“I feel disbelief,” she added following an announcement from U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mauger that underwater debris found Thursday was “consistent with a catastrophic implosion of the vessel.”
Azmeh, who is Shahzada’s older sister, also said she was fixated on international media coverage of the search for Titan this week.
“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 told NBC News. “I personally have found it kind of difficult to breathe thinking of them.”
Mauger’s announcement Thursday came hours after the Coast Guard alerted the public that a deep-sea remotely operated vehicle had made a discovery along the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.
“The debris is consistent with the catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber. Upon this determination, we immediately notified the families,” Mauger told reporters gathered in Boston. “On behalf of the United States Coast Guard and the entire unified command, I offer my deepest condolences to the families.”
At a young age in Pakistan, Shahzada Dawood was “absolutely obsessed” with the story of the Titanic and would frequently watch the 1958 film about it, “A Night to Remember,” Azmeh told NBC News.
As he grew up, he reportedly would enjoy visiting museum exhibitions containing artifacts recovered from the 1912 disaster.
“He was my baby brother,” Azmeh Dawood told NBC News. “I held him up when he was born.”
Shahzada Dawood was among the richest men in Pakistan, with the majority of his family’s wealth arising from the Dawood Hercules Corporation Limited, an investment company.
The other people who died this week have been identified as OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, British businessman turned adventurer Hamish Harding and Paul-Henry Nargeolet, a former French navy officer and leading Titanic expert.
Fox News’ Michael Ruiz and Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.