A father and son gave up their seats on the ultimately doomed Titan submersible out of safety concerns just weeks before its catastrophic implosion, they have told CNN.
Investor Jay Bloom and his son Sean said they were both worried about the submersible and its ability to travel deep into the ocean ahead of the planned voyage.
Their seats ultimately went to Shahzada and Suleman Dawood, the father and son who were onboard when the vessel imploded and were among five passengers that perished.
“I saw a lot of red flags. It was only meant for five people. I just did not think that it can survive going that low into the ocean,” Sean, 20, told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Friday evening.
He recalled seeing a video of Stockton Rush – CEO of OceanGate, the company that offers the deepwater expedition – walking through the submersible and its features.
“Ultimately I ended up warning my dad about it, and he ended up agreeing with me,” he said.
Titan was a submersible that offered wealthy passengers the opportunity to view the wreckage of the Titanic, which lies 12,500 feet below sea level.
It suffered a catastrophic implosion under the huge pressures of the deep sea, instantly killing the five passengers.
The other three on board were Rush, British businessman Hamish Harding, and French diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet.
Jay Bloom described the experience of learning what happened to the Titan as “very surreal”.
“The most haunting thing about it is when you look at the news, hopping on my laptop and social media, television, it was everywhere,” he said.
He shared text message exchanges with Rush where he was offered the spots on the vessel for the May expedition.
He said Rush flew out to Las Vegas in March to try to get him to buy the tickets.
Jay recalled the CEO flew in on a two-seater experimental plane he built, which deepened his reservations.
“I started to think about it. He’s coming in on a two-seater experimental plane to pitch me to go on a five-seater experimental sub that he has built down to the ocean floor to see the Titanic,” Jay said.
“He has a different risk appetite than I do,” he said. “I’m a pilot. I have my helicopter pilots license. I would not get into an experimental aircraft.”
Both Jay and Sean said that Rush had brushed off questions or concerns that they had raised with the submersible during the process.
Authorities involved continue to scour the ocean floor for debris in the hope that any discovery could lead them to better understanding of fatal incident.
On Friday, authorities in Canada and the US each announced they would launch probes into the implosion.
It is unclear, though, whether the investigations by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and US Coast Guard would be a single one or two separate, simultaneous examinations.
Jay said the decision not to go still haunts him.
“All I could see when I saw that father and son was myself and my son, that could’ve been us,” Jay said.