Former ABC Reporter Details Titanic Submarine Accident That Almost Killed Him

Former ABC News science editor Dr. Michael Guillen detailed his experience in a submarine accident that occurred in 2000 while he was studying the underwater wreckage of the R.M.S. Titanic — an accident that he said nearly cost him his life.

Guillen tweeted a video that showed a combination of actual footage from the accident and a computer-generated recreation of what it might have looked like to someone watching from outside the submarine.

“TITANIC ACCIDENT,” Guillen captioned the video. “When I was at ABC News, I became the first TV correspondent in history to report from the wreck of the Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, 2-1/2 miles below the surface. An accident happened that almost claimed my life. Here’s what happened.”


The submersible was named the Mir 1 and had been built 13 years earlier in 1987 — and the video showed members of the team reacting in real-time as a fast-moving current pushed them toward the massive propellers of the sunken ship.

“Oh my gosh, look at the size of that thing,” one of them said as they approached the propeller, and another said, “Look at the blade! It’s still clean, like it’s still brand new!”

“I felt a little bit of a boom, didn’t you?” one asked, and the view from the porthole was suddenly filled with falling chunks of rusted metal. “Look at the size of those things! … So, are we stuck, or what?”

In his 2021 book “Believing is Seeing,” Dr. Guillen described the situation in more detail, saying, “It seemed to me we were heading toward it [the propeller] too fast – and, worse, accelerating. Later, I learned that our sub accidentally got caught in a fast-moving, deep-underwater current. A split-second later, Mir 1 slammed into the Titanic’s propeller.”

“I felt the shock of the collision: rusty debris showered down on our submersible, obscuring my view through the porthole,” he added, going on to explain that the crew attempted to rock the submersible out of its position for some 30 minutes, much in the same way that a driver might rock back and forth to get a car that was stuck out of mud or ice.

Guillen, who is a Christian, said he truly believed that they were not going to make it out of the situation — and at that moment, he “experienced God’s presence and peace right when I was resigned to kissing my life goodbye.”

But a short time afterward, he said he had felt an “invisible presence” with them on the Mir 1 — and the submersible dislodged from its stuck position.

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