19-Year-Old Who Died on Titanic Submersible Was 'Terrified' Before Trip, Aunt Says

Suleman Dawood's aunt said that the 19-year-old expressed hesitation about going on the expedition, which the Coast Guard said suffered a "catastrophic implosion."

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19-year-old Suleman Dawood, one of the five who died on the OceanGate Expeditions submersible craft that suffered a "catastrophic implosion," expressed hesitation days before the vessel made its fatal trip to the shipwreck of the Titanic.

In an interview with NBC News, Dawood's aunt Azmeh said that he told a relative that he "wasn't very up for" the expedition and was "terrified" in the days leading up to the trip. Ultimately, he decided to go on the journey because he wanted to accompany his father, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood, who was very interested in the history of the Titanic and its wreck, which sits 12,500 feet at the bottom of the ocean. The trip fell over Father's Day weekend, and his aunt said he hoped it would be a bonding experience between the father and son.

"I am thinking of Suleman, who is 19, in there, just perhaps gasping for breath ... It's been crippling, to be honest," she said. When the Titan submersible craft went missing, just under two hours into its expedition on Sunday, June 17, Azmeh Dawood was desperate to hear updates on the search for the vessel. On Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard discovered a debris field that was later identified as pieces of the submersible, which was consistent with a "catastrophic implosion."

"I feel disbelief," she said. "It's an unreal situation. 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. I personally have found it kind of difficult to breathe thinking of them. I never thought I would have an issue with drawing breath. It's been unlike any experience I've ever had."

While she had fallen out of contact with her brother in recent years, partly due to her medicinal cannabis use to help with her progressive multiple sclerosis diagnosis, she heard about his plans to go on the expedition before it started its final voyage from Newfoundland. Her brother expressed an interest in the Titanic from an early age, and she wasn't surprised to hear about him purchasing the $250,000 tickets to go on the trip to see the wreckage. "If you gave me a million dollars," she said, "I would not have gotten into the Titan."

In a statement released on Thursday, OceanGate Expeditions confirmed that all five on board the craft had died. "These men were true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure, and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the world's oceans," read the statement. Also on the craft was British billionaire Hamish Harding, French Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, and OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, who served as the pilot.

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