The family and friends of the man who lost his life while trying to save a woman who had fallen from London Bridge into the River Thames have paid tribute to him on Good Morning Britain (GMB).
20-year old Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole – known as ‘Jimi’ – died after leaping into the Thames in the early hours of Saturday (24 April) after he, his best friend and a stranger saw a woman drop into the river.
The coast guard and the Metropolitan Police’s marine unit rescued the woman and one of the men, but could not locate Olubunmi-Adewole despite an extensive search. His body was found at 6am the following morning.
The stranger and the woman both survived the ordeal. A City of London Police spokesperson said: “A second man and a woman, who were rescued by the Coastguard, were taken to St Thomas’ Hospital and have since been discharged.”
What did his friend say on GMB?
Jimi was accompanied at the time by best friend Bernard Kosia, who appeared on GMB to recount the events of that night, and pay heartfelt tribute to his late friend.
As part of a hard to watch in-studio interview segment, Kosia said Jimi “means a lot to everyone, especially in South London. The fact that he was adamant to save that woman shows his nature.”
Retelling the events of that evening, Kosia said the pair had worked together at central London restaurant The Cinnamon Club for several years.
That night, Kosia wasn’t even supposed to be working, but it was a busy Friday evening, and so Jimi asked him to come in to help out.
“Everything was fine, the shift went smoothly,” Kosia said, “we finished even earlier than usual. We left side by side, that’s how it was with me and Jimi.”
Kosia said the pair’s conversations often focused on family, and what they had to do to look out for their loved ones – this was the case for the final dialogue they shared together.
As they were crossing London Bridge, two gentlemen showed them a video of a woman jumping into the water.
"Being from South London, we always make sure people are OK,” he said. “We both called 999. Jimi got hold of them first and told them there was a woman in the river struggling.
“We could hear her saying ‘I’m dying, I can’t swim.’ It was pitch black. We both decided to see who could find her. We could hear her getting closer and closer.”
‘I’m proud to have crossed his path’
Kosia said Jimi was “adamant” that he was going to save the woman, and didn’t care about what happened to himself.
Another man approached the pair “out of nowhere” and asked if they could swim.
Jimi was a strong swimmer (“always one of the first ones in”), so he and the stranger both entered the water. “Bernard, take the phone and make sure the police are here as soon as possible because you can’t swim,” Jimi said.
But the young man did not survive.
All I could hear was Jimi shouting my name,” said Kosia. “but the shouting wasn’t normal, it was pain.”
He described his friend as a “neighbourhood hero”.
“To risk your life in such a way, you don’t see that every day,” he added. “I’m proud to have at least crossed his path.”
What did his parents say?
Jimi’s parents were also interviewed, both fighting back tears as they paid tribute to their son’s bravery.
His father Michael Adewola, 63, said he wasn't the Government to honour Jimi, “because he was a good soul to many”.
Adewola described the 20-year old as “a social boy”, and “the breadwinner of the house” who had “taken care of me and my wife and his friends.”
He revealed that Jimi had a tattoo depicting the name of a friend who died in a fatal knife attack two years ago outside Clapham underground station, “to show his love.”
In that incident, Jimi’s friend was similarly attempting to rescue somebody.
“I can't live without him,” said Adewola. “Jimi was taking care of me.”
Adewola thanked all those who have supported a GoFundMe page set up to help the family – which has so far raised more than £88,000, more than triple the £25,000 target to raise funds for funeral costs and support for the family.