(NewsNation) — Las Vegas businessman Jay Bloom revealed that he and his son were offered seats on the submersible that went missing on a trip to see the wreckage from the Titanic, but ultimately gave them up.
Bloom shared texts on Facebook he exchanged with Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate, the company that owned the Titan submersible. Rush, along with four other passengers, was on the submersible when it embarked June 18 on what was meant to be an eight-hour dive to the Titanic site. Less than two hours in, however, the support vessel Polar Prince lost contact with the Titan.
The U.S. Coast Guard taking the lead on search efforts. On Thursday, officials and OceanGate confirmed that debris found near the Titanic wreckage was from the submersible.
“The debris is consistent with a catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber,” Rear Adm. John Mauger with the First Coast Guard District said. All five passengers, including Rush, British businessman Hamish Harding, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood, Dawood’s son Suleman Dawood, and deep-sea explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet, are believed to have died.
Bloom said the tickets he turned down ultimately went to the Dawoods.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Bloom said Friday on “Elizabeth Vargas Reports.” “Every time I see a picture of the people that lost their lives on this tragic event, I look at that picture of the father and son who replaced my son and myself and think just how easily, but for the grace of God, that could have been our picture on the news. It’s really sobering.”
Bloom said that Rush had asked him and his son, Sean, in February to go on a dive to the Titanic scheduled in May. Those May dives were postponed because of the weather.
Bloom texted Rush about safety concerns his son’s friend had brought up about “what could go wrong.”
“He researched the marine life at that depth and perceived threats to the vessel,” Bloom wrote. “A sperm whale attacks the sub or a giant squid grabs it and compromises the hull.”
In response, Rush said that with a pressure of over 100 million pounds, “No sperm whale or squid is ever going to mess with the sub.”
“While there’s obviously risk, it’s way safer than flying in a helicopter or even scuba diving,” Rush wrote.
Rush later offered Bloom a ticket for a “last minute price” of $150,000 (compared to the $250,000 others on the submersible paid) but the businessman ultimately declined. At the time, Bloom told Rush this was because of scheduling issues.
Bloom said he and his son grew concerned about the materials used to build the vessel, as well the off-the-shelf components it was composed of. For example, the submersible was driven using a video game controller, and Rush told CBS News in a previous interview he bought a light from Camping World.
“Stockton was very dismissive about it,” Bloom said.
On Facebook, Bloom said Rush “really believed” what he was saying about the submersible’s safety.
“But he was very wrong,” Bloom said. “He passionately believed in what he was doing.”
Bloom recalled the last time he ever saw Rush in person March 1. After going to the Titanic Exhibit at the Luxor in Las Vegas, the two talked about the dive.
“He was absolutely convinced that it was safer than crossing the street,” Bloom said on Facebook. “He gave me a book of photos (1 of 324 produced) signed by him and Paul Henri Nargeolet.”
After losing another friend of his, actor Treat Williams, in a motorcycle crash earlier this month, Bloom wrote on social media that he and Sean are “going to take a minute to stop and smell the roses.”
“One last time. RIP Stockton and crew,” Bloom said. “Tomorrow is never promised. Make the most of today.”