A Titanic survivor's story: Inkster woman recalls her late aunt's memories of that ill-fated voyage

Local woman's aunt survived the sinking of Titanic

DEARBORN, Mich. (WXYZ) - Janette Masselmany Goutimy grew up in Dearborn and Inkster with her aunt who was only 17-years-old when she lived through the sinking of the Titanic.

Fatima Mousselmani -- a Lebanese immigrant -- was traveling with her two boy cousins to America to live with family in Michigan City, Indiana.

"She thought the ship looked like a palace. She was so fascinated by it," said Goutimy.

 "Right there!  There's her name," she said as she pointed at the Memorial Hall wall in Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at The Henry Ford.

The wall lists the names of the passengers and crew under two headings: "Saved" and "Lost."

"Fatima Mousselmani, M-O-U-S-S-E-L-M-A-N-I," she noted reading the name on the wall.  "We spell it M-A-S-S-E-L-M-A-N-Y now."

Sadly, the boys did not survive.

You can see their names listed as Mr. Mustafa Nasr and Mr. Yousif Ahmed Wazli.

The family now spells Wazli with an ‘N' instead of an ‘L' -- Wazni.

What happened to them haunted Fatima her whole life.

"One was trying to get into the life boat. They realized he was dressed like a woman. He wanted to still get on. They struggled, and he got shot. He died in front of her," said Goutimy.

"The other one was scuffling with a crewman or maybe two, and he went overboard….[Fatima] saw this. That's why she cried all the time," recalled Goutimy.

Goutimy said April – the anniversary month of the tragedy – was always a tough time for her aunt.

Fatima was one of 183 Third Class passengers saved that night.

A total of 714 people were rescued. 

Tragically, 1514 people died. 

The "women and children first" protocol for evacuations on lifeboats left a disproportionate number of men aboard.

There were only 20 lifeboats for 1,178 people. 

The Titanic was carrying 2,224 people.

More than a thousand people were still on board when Titanic broke up and sank bow-first.

"She talked mostly about the people in the water. That sight was just too much for her. You're seeing people freezing to death right before your eyes. At 17-years-old she was very, very young. And that kind of shock is too much on anyone," said Goutimy.

The R.M.S. Titanic was the largest ship in the world at the time.   It was considered "unsinkable."

It embarked on its maiden voyage from Southhampton, England for New York City on April 10, 1912.

It struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 14 at 11:40 p.m.

By 2:20 a.m. on April 15, the ship had sunk .

The tragedy is considered one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history. 

"Anytime something Titanic would come up …or if the movie A Night To Remember was on TV, she would cry," said Goutimy. 

"She said after the ship went down, it was dark.  And you didn't know if you were going to be rescued. And they were so cold.  She would say you can't believe how cold it was.  The chill went right through your bones.  But she made it," smiled Goutimy.

Her aunt didn't talk about the rescue on the RMS Carpathia a few hours later.

"She must have been in shock," said Goutimy.  "But she said when they arrived in New York, the survivors were treated very well."

She went on to live with relatives in Michigan City, Indiana. Then she relocated to Metro Detroit renting out rooms in her home to make a living.

She passed away in 1971.

Goutimy thinks her aunt was resilient and tough because she lived through the wreck of the Titanic.

"She was feisty, and she was like that all her life. Had a lot of strength," added Goutimy.

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