Family of London Bridge river hero, 20, say search ended too soon

Family of hero, 20, who died after jumping into the River Thames to rescue woman who fell from London Bridge say search for him ended too soon

  • Man who dived into the water was Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole
  • Known as ‘Jimi’, he has been hailed by friends and strangers alike as a hero 
  • Coastguard were able to save the woman the other man who had jumped in
  • His father, Micahel Adewola, 63, said today the search effort was ‘not enough’  

Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, 20, drowned in the River Thames after diving in to rescue a woman

The family of a hero who died after jumping into the River Thames to rescue a woman who fell from London Bridge said the search for him ended too soon. 

Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, who was known as Jimi, saw the woman fall from the bridge when he was on his way home from work at around midnight on Saturday.

After he dived in, the woman and another man who also jumped in the water to were rescued by the Coastguard and the Metropolitan Police’s river unit, but Jimi was not found after a search which called off after more than an hour.

Police then said a body which was believed to be that of Jimi was discovered at 6am on Saturday.

His heartbroken father, Micahel Adewola, 63, today said the search effort was ‘not enough’.

He was speaking to Sky News along with his wife, Jimi’s mother Olasunkanmi Adewole, 54, who said she wanted ‘justice’ for her son.    

It has since emerged that Jimi was the cousin of Malcolm Mide-Madaiola, who was stabbed to death at the age of 17 near Clapham Tube Station in 2018. 

Police marine units and the coastguard recovered Jimi’s body from the water at around 6am on Saturday.

It emerged later that the Nigerian-born Briton was a former pupil at the Harris Academy in Peckham, South East London, according to My London. 

Speaking to Sky News today Mrs Adewole said: ‘I feel bad, because my son was trying to rescue a woman. 

‘I feel so bad.. and I want people to help me. I want justice for my son.’

Mr Adewola said his son was a ‘very nice guy, a good boy’, while Britons on social media called him a ‘selfless hero’ and a ‘very brave young man’.  

Commenting on reports of Jimi’s death, the mayor of London Sadiq Khan tweeted that he ‘was the best of us’.

Mr Adewola said an officer knocked on the family home’s door at 1am on Saturday to inform them of the incident. 

His heartbroken father, Micahel Adewola (pictured with Jimi’s mother Olasunkanmi Adewole, 54), 63, today said the search effort was ‘not enough’

Jimi’s father Michael Adewola (left), 63, and his mother Olasunkanmi Adewole, 54, (centre) said they are proud of their son (right) for trying to save another person’s life – but they are devastated by his death

Pictured: A police boat on the River Thames with London Bridge in the background during the search for the man who jumped into the river to save a woman

Pictured: Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, known by friends as Jimi

The rescuers’ search was called off by the Coastguard more than an hour after it began, police said in a statement. 

They then found Jimi’s body at 5.46am.   

Mr Adewola earlier told The Sun: ‘Jimi was a very nice, kind young man, he was the heart of our family.

‘He was full of live, he had his life to live, he was ambitious and he was so gifted. 

‘He was a previous boy, and so respectful and pure-hearted. Sometimes I don’t know how these boys are like this together, he was just something else.’ 

The grieving father also said he believes his son should be rewarded for his bravery.

‘We want justice for him,’ he said. ‘We want his life to mean something, it will always mean something to us, but he should be rewarded for the bravery he showed, he deserves a medal for what he did.

‘He is a very unique and angelic soul, and I am proud him, so proud, and I want to know the world he is the deepest and most wonderful man.’

At around 3 p.m. on Saturday, the charity Malcom’s World Foundation, set up after the death of Jimi’s cousin, appeared to confirm that he was the man who died in the incident, tweeting a message along with a picture. 

‘Sad this family just lost another hero Folajimi Olubunmi- Adewole who died saving the woman […] in River Thames yesterday,’ the tweet read.

‘Pure-hearted soul. Great helper. Loving boy. RIP #JimiTheHero,’ it added.

Officials are yet to confirm how or why the woman fell into the River Thames.  

A man who jumped into the River thames to rescue a woman who fell from London Bridge has died. Pictured: London Bridge

Mr Adewola confirmed that Jimi was on his way home from working at restaurant The Cinnamon Club in Westminster when he spotted the woman on the bridge. 

After he saw her fall into the water, he and his colleague, Bernard, dived in to try and save her. 

He said: ‘Him and his friend were coming from work together, and they called the police, and saw what was happening. They wanted to help and tried to speak to her but wanted to leave it to the police.

‘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.

‘He would help anyone that needed it.

‘I am proud of my son, he is amazing, but as a family we are devastated. We are just glad the woman is alive too.

‘I don’t think I would be able to do it, I might be able to call the police, but I don’t know if I could do it, but this was Jimi, you can’t even describe the kind of heart he had.’

Tributes poured in on social media from friends and strangers alike after Jimi’s identity was revealed.

‘Very sad to hear he died while bravely trying to save another person. He was a hero and should be remembered for his act of bravery. Sorry for his familys loss,’ one person wrote on the social media site.

‘So very sad, What an Amazing young man .. RIP Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole,’ another tweeted.

A third person wrote: ‘This is incredibly sad. What a brave and selfless man Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole was to sacrificed his life to save a woman. May he sleep peacefully. My thoughts and prayers are with his heartbroken family.’ 

Jimi’s uncle, Olumide Wole-Madariola, 53, and Malcolm’s father told The Sun: ‘It’s the kind of person he was, both him and Malcolm were the same.

‘He was just coming back from work, and he saw the woman and he just felt ‘no this can’t happen’ it’s just Jimi for you. It’s typical of both of them to want to help others.

‘At home, it’s what he displays the affection, he’s always been ready to do anything to help people, he’s kind, he’s caring, he’s loving, and he was amazing.

‘This is so devastating right now, we are all heartbroken.’

Tributes poured in on social media from friends and strangers alike after Jimi’s identity was revealed

Speaking about the relationship between the two cousins, he said: ‘They are besties, they were besties.

‘Jimi even had a tattoo of Malcolm’s name and his date of birth, that’s how close they are, and now it’s like they both died the same way.

‘Malcolm died tried to save a younger person, and Jimi tried to save another person too.

‘It’s so painful for the whole family, but we are glad that the woman is alive, but I think the parents need all the support in the world.

‘But what were they both were thinking, I think of Malcolm and Jimi. When Malcolm stopped his friend, and the same with Jimi when he jumped in the water, what was going through his mind.’

‘He is a hero, a true hero, and every part a hero.’

It comes as the search for another person who fell in the Thames this week — a 13-year-old schoolboy — continues.  

A hero woman had jumped into the Thames to try and save the boy.

She heard screams when he fell from Tower Bridge on his way to school on Tuesday, according to witnesses.

A City of London Police spokesperson said: ‘We were called at 12.12am on Saturday April 24 to reports of a woman in the River Thames close to London Bridge.

‘Two men, who had witnessed the woman fall from the bridge, entered the river to try and save her.

‘The Coastguard and Metropolitan Police Marine Units were able to rescue the woman and one of the men.

Police have launched a search for a 13-year-old boy who went missing after falling into the River Thames from Tower Bridge on his way to school (emergency services at the scene)

‘Sadly, following an extensive search involving police helicopters, marine units, LFB, LAS and City Police officers, the missing man was not located.

‘At 6am the same morning, a body was found believed to be that of the missing man.

‘His next of kin have been made aware and are being supported by officers from the City of London Police.’

Witnesses say there was at least one police boat on the Thames and around six police cars and an ambulance were sent to the scene.

The tide was high and the water was rough and choppy at the time.

River police, firefighters, the RNLI (pictured) and a police helicopter were also involved in the search for the youngster

The pupil was wearing his full uniform when he got off a bus as he made his way to The Ark Globe Academy in Southwark, London, at around 8am.  

He and a friend had boarded the bus together but the youngster got off near Tower Bridge — ahead of his usual stop in Elephant and Castle — before falling into the river, the school’s principal said in a letter to parents.

Witnesses described hearing screams before one woman jumped into the water to try and save the boy. 

Despite using a life-float to swim into the Thames, she was only able to recover his school jacket and school bag. 

City of London Police confirmed officers have launched an ‘intensive search’ for the boy involving helicopter and marine searches but he has not yet been found. 

The boy is thought to have celebrated his 13th birthday only last week.

Emergency services (pictured on the River Thames) including the river police, firefighters, the RNLI and a police helicopter were all involved in the search 

Police confirmed officers have launched an ‘intensive search’ for the boy involving helicopter and marine searches but he has not yet been found (emergency services at the scene)

The 13-year-old boy went missing after falling into the River Thames from Tower Bridge (police at the scene) as he was on his way to school, his headteacher said 

Officers have launched an ‘intensive search’ for the boy involving helicopter and marine searches but he has not yet been found (teams at the scene)

A spokeswoman for City of London Police told MailOnline: ‘City of London Police is leading an investigation into a missing person, working alongside our colleagues in the Metropolitan Police Service.  

‘We believe this is linked to an incident where a child fell into the Thames from Tower Bridge. 

‘Despite an intensive search by City of London Police, the police helicopter and marine units, this person has not yet been found.

‘We ask anyone who witnessed anything on Tuesday 20 April at 8.09am, to call us on 020 7601 2999, quoting reference 21000215310.’

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