Jewish billionaire Jay Bloom says he and his son Sean were offered two seats on the ill-fated Titan submersible but declined to join over safety concerns and scheduling issues.
The American real estate developer, who is based in Las Vegas, said Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman ended up taking their available seats.
Dawood and his son were among the five people who died instantly when the submersible imploded on a mission to explore the wreck of the Titanic in the North Atlantic.
“Every time I see a picture of that Pakistani businessman and his 19-year-old son, I think how easily that could have been me and my 20-year-old son – but for the grace of God,” Bloom told Reuters.
“In February Stockton asked me and Sean to go with him on the dive to Titanic in May. Both May dives were postponed due to weather and the dive got delayed until June 18, the date of this trip,” he said.
Bloom added: “I am sure he really believed what he was saying. But he was very wrong.”
In a Facebook post shared by Bloom, he shared text messages between himself and Oceangate CEO Stockton Rush, who repeatedly assured him his concerns were "stupid."
In the texts, Stockton Rush offered Bloom and his son seats, even discounting the ticket price to a mere $150k for a last-minute spot on the ill-fated voyage.
He also described the trip as "way safer than flying in a helicopter or scuba diving" before adding: "There hasn't been even an injury in 35 years in a non-military sub."