Entertainment And News

The Loss Of 19-Year-Old Submersible Victim Raises Questions About The Dangers Of Kids Taking Risks To Please Their Parents

Photo: Rokas Tenys, rarrarorro / Shutterstock, @DawoodTdf / Twitter
suleman and shahzada dawood titan submersible tragedy

In the days since the discovery of the OceanGate submersible debris, and confirmation of the deaths of the five passengers, more details have come to light about 19-year-old Suleman Dawood, son of Pakistani-British businessman Shahzada Dawood who was also on board.

In a heart-wrenching account, the aunt of 19-year-old Dawood, Azmeh Dawood, shared an emotional testament of her nephew's apprehension towards the doomed voyage on the Titan submersible. Azmeh is the elder sister of Shahzada Dawood, who tragically lost his life with his son on the OceanGate vessel.

In a recent interview with NBC News, Azmeh recalled her brother's enduring fascination with the Titanic, a fascination so powerful that it pushed his son Suleman into joining him on the tragic expedition.

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She painted a vivid picture of her nephew's hesitation, stating he "wasn't very up for it" and was "terrified" to go on the voyage. However, the expedition fell on Father's Day, compelling Suleman to accompany his father.

Suleman Dawood decided to go into the submersible with his father because the trip was on Father's Day.

"I feel disbelief," Azmeh said through tears. "It's an unreal situation."

Shahzada Dawood, a Titanic aficionado, had always yearned to witness the sunken luxury liner up close. The wreck, resting approximately 13,400 feet beneath the ocean surface, is only accessible via specialized vessels, making such trips exceedingly rare and costly.

The danger and exclusivity of such an expedition lends perspective: more people have been to space than have visited the Titanic wreck. Thus, Suleman's reluctance to board the 22-foot vessel was far from unfounded.

For some, like Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet who also lost his life on the Titan, it was worth the risk of a catastrophic implosion. "When you're in very deep water, you're dead before you realize that something is happening, so it's just not a problem," Nargeolet said to the Irish Examiner back in 2019.

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However, Suleman was not a Titanic enthusiast like Nargeolet or his father. He was simply a dutiful son of one.

Stepping out of one's comfort zone to appease a loved one is a familiar circumstance for many of us. While such a move rarely jeopardizes our lives, Suleman, according to his aunt, wasn't blind to the dangers of the trip.

"He had a sense about things, and he had a sense this was not okay," she said. "He was not very comfortable about doing it."

Despite his fears, he couldn't pass up the opportunity to bond with his father on a deep-sea adventure. "It was a Father's Day thing; it was a bonding experience," Azmeh said. "He wanted the adventure of a lifetime just like his father did."

"His father wanted it, and that was Sule all the way — he'd do anything for anyone," Azmeh remarked.

Perhaps even more heartbreaking is a revelation from Suleman's mother, Christine Dawood, who says she gave her son her own seat on the Titan.

"Then I stepped back and gave them space to set [Suleman] up, because he really wanted to go... I was really happy for them because both of them, they really wanted to do that for a very long time,” Christine Dawood explained.

Dawood also added that Suleman had taken a Rubik's Cube with him on the trip with the intent to break a world record: "He said, 'I'm going to solve the Rubik's Cube 3,700 metres below sea at the Titanic.'" Suleman could solve the puzzle in 12 seconds, according to his mother.

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People were left heartbroken at the realization of Suleman's motives for boarding the submersible.

In response to a tweet sharing the NBC interview with Azmeh, people expressed their feelings on Suleman's wish to please his father.

Photo: Twitter / DawoodTdf

"This is the worst part of the whole thing," one person wrote.

"That's heartbreaking," another replied.

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However, some expressed that Suleman's decision to ignore his fear of wanting to please a loved one can serve as a lesson.

"Let this be a reminder to Never go against your intuition just because of pressure from a family member. So sad," one person wrote.

"No kidding. A gut feeling is nothing to ignore," another person added.

In retrospect, it's easy to assert that Suleman shouldn't have boarded the vessel. Though, in the moment, when an opportunity arises to bond with a parent over their lifelong passion, it can be hard to pass up.

Hopefully, this tragedy can serve as a reminder for people that personal safety far exceeds pleasing a loved one, no matter the circumstance.

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Ethan Cotler is a writer and frequent contributor to YourTango living in Boston. His writing covers entertainment, news, and human interest stories.