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Hendersonville’s own ‘People’s Court’ host recounts his risky submarine dive to Titanic wreckage

By Taylor Thompson

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    HENDERSONVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — One local Hendersonville man was one of the first people to ever go down on a submarine and see the remains of the Titanic.

Many may know him as the host of “The People’s Court” — Doug Llewelyn.

In light of the tragedy surrounding the Titan submersible that imploded deep in the North Atlantic, killing five people on their way to the Titanic wreckage site, Llewelyn sat down with News 13 and recounted his experience on the ocean floor.

The TV host and producer has lived in Hendersonville for the last 27 years.

Llewelyn has also been a part of many TV specials that included “Return to the Titanic: Live,” which involved an 8-week expedition down to the Titanic.

“We made 36 dives in a submarine that we had leased from the French government and brought up over 2,000 artifacts from the ocean floor,” he explained.

Those artifacts were then presented to the public in a two-hour-long television special called “Return to the Titanic: Live.”

Llewelyn recalled the experience as something very few people had the opportunity to do at the time.

“There are very few people in the world who have been down. I probably was maybe the 15th or 16th person total who had been down that deep to see the Titanic,” he said.

He said it was a very risky proposition and that he wasn’t fully aware of how dangerous it was when he went down.

“I began to learn that if there had been any kind of a spark from all the electronic equipment in the sub, we could have imploded, which is what recently happened to the submersible that went down a week or so ago,” he said.

When they went down, Llewelyn said they were inside an 18-ton submarine.

While it was a safe submarine, at 12,500 feet down, anything could go wrong, and Llewelyn said he knew there was no way to get help if they needed it.

While risky, he said it was an experience he’ll never forget.

He recalled as they began to go down to the bottom, the submarine rotated, driving it down about 100 feet per minute. It got darker with every inch until all he could see was the red glow of some of the lights on the panel of the submarine.

“We saw the Titanic when the lights hit it; it looked like an underwater Christmas tree,” he said.

Llewelyn said he knew one of the five men who were lost on the Titan submersible earlier this month.

“Commander Nargeolet was the head of our diving operations. I knew him really well,” he said.

“My guess is it imploded and the five people in that sub never knew what hit them, it happened so fast,” Llewelyn said. “6,000 pounds of pressure pushing water into that device, I don’t think they knew what hit them.”

“You know you can’t help but feel deep sorrow for all of those people because everyone was so excited, I know, to have that experience.”

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