Tributes to hero who died in River Thames rescue bid

Tributes to hero who died in River Thames rescue bid

The family of a man who died after jumping into the Thames to save a woman who had fallen from London Bridge have paid tribute to their “hero”.

Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, 20, known as Jimi, reportedly was one of two men who entered the water at 00:10 BST on Saturday after spotting the woman fall.

The coastguard and the Met Police’s marine unit rescued the woman and one of the men.

A body, thought to be Mr Olubunmi-Adewole’s, was found six hours later.

Formal identification has not yet taken place.

His father Michael Adewola, 63, told the Sun newspaper that his son deserved a medal for the bravery he showed by diving into the river to try to save the woman.

“He is a very unique and angelic soul, and I am proud of him, so proud, and I want the world to know he is the deepest and most wonderful man,” Mr Adewola said.

He added: “He is a hero, and always will be. I can’t bring him back but I want him to be remembered forever for what he did. It was just like him to want to always try and help others.”

Mr Olubunmi-Adewole was with a friend, Bernard, when they heard a woman had fallen into the Thames.

Bernard told Sky News they could hear the woman screaming “help me, help me, I’m gonna die”.

“Instantly Jimi looked at me and I said, ‘all right, we can look for her’. But we couldn’t see her, it was pitch black.”

Police have not said how the woman fell into the river.

A GoFundMe appeal to support Mr Olubunmi-Adewole’s family and pay for his funeral has raised more than £50,000 – double the £25,000 target – with more than 4,000 people donating.

It was set up by Malcolm’s World Foundation, a charity established by the parents of Malcolm Mide-Madariola, a student who was murdered in 2018. Mr Olubunmi-Adewole was involved with the organisation.

On Monday, Mr Olubunmi-Adewole’s school, Harris Academy Peckham, held a two-minute commemorative clap in his honour, with all students and staff gathering in the playground to remember him.

Rebecca Hickey, the school’s executive principal, said it was very emotional.

“He was quite a character, he would never be seen without a smile. He was known for his slightly cheeky, optimistic outlook. He was very popular, incredibly popular amongst his peers and obviously he leaves them devastated in his wake,” she said.

“Anyone who knew him remotely well would not have been surprised at the actions he took. He put others in front of himself at all times.

“He was a very gentlemanly young man. He had a clear set of moral values and his manners were very gentlemanly, he would hold doors open, and if anybody ahead of him failed to do that he would have been morally outraged and make that clear.”

Ms Hickey said the school intended to work with his family to find a way to continue his memory in a way they would want them to.

“He will always be a hero within our community,” she added.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan posted on Twitter that Mr Olubunmi-Adewole “was the best of us”.

“A true hero of our city who gave his life trying to save another,” he wrote.

“My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time of tragic loss.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted it was a “truly selfless act of heroism from a brave young man”.

Mr Olubunmi-Adewole was also a member of Athenlay Football Club in south-east London and a minute’s silence was held at all of their matches on Sunday.

Tony Underwood, from the club, later tweeted: “Saw my first swallow of the summer yesterday. Hope his family can also see his soul now as a beacon of warmth and hope for us all. RIP #JimiTheHero.”

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