Emotional tributes were paid to Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday, as family and friends lined up to praise the man who lost his life jumping into the Thames to save a woman’s life.
Olubunmi-Adewole, known by friends as Jimi, died after he jumped into the river to save a woman who fell from London Bridge after midnight on 24 April.
Another man jumped into the river with Jimi; he and the woman were rescued by emergency services – but Jimi’s body was not found until 6am.
A fundraiser, organised by Malcolm’s World Foundation on behalf of Jimi’s foundation, has now raised nearly £100,000 after well-wishers rushed to offer their support to the 20-year-old’s bereaved relatives.
Appearing on GMB, Jimi’s friends and family urged the government to award him the George Cross for bravery. His friend, Bernard Kosia, who was with him on the night, described him as a “hero” for what he did.
He told the ITV programme: “Jimi was adamant, for some reason, that he didn’t care (about himself). He didn’t think twice as to what was going to happen. I just remember him saying ‘Bernard, I have to save her, I’m going to save her’.”
He said: “Jimi means a lot to everyone. Especially around south London now, everyone knows him as a neighbourhood hero. To risk your life in such a way, you don’t see that every day. And the fact that he was adamant to save that woman, it just shows his nature and his mindset.”
Recalling their last conversations before the incident, Kosia said his friend had spoken about his family and told him he loved him.
He said: “They (our conversations) were just always about family, loved ones, what we have to do for them to make sure that they’re OK.”
He added: “We started joking around and I just remember Jimi looking at me like ‘Bernard, you know I love you, right?’ And I was like ‘Bro, I know you do, man’.”
Describing being alerted to the incident at London Bridge, he said they were approached by two men who showed them a video of a woman “jumping over the bridge”.
He said they called 999 and heard a woman shouting “I’m dying, I’m dying” but could not see anything because it was “pitch black”. Kosia said he cannot swim but his friend and another man went into the water to try to rescue the woman.
‘Jimi means a lot to everyone.’— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) April 27, 2021
Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole’s best friend Bernard Kosia talks to @susannareid100 and @adilray about his best friend.
He pays tribute to the ‘hero’ who sadly lost his life saving a woman from the Thames.#JimiTheHero pic.twitter.com/Z63YoNRIca
The emotion of the occasion proved too much for host Susanna Reid, who fought back tears as loved ones paid tribute to Jimi’s memory.
“We talked yesterday about this incredible young man and it breaks my heart to talk about it frankly, 20-year-old Jimi,” she said, choking up. “Jimi, who by all accounts is a total hero, jumped into the water to try and save her and unfortunately Jimi died in that rescue attempt.”
Referring to an upcoming interview with Jimi’s family, Susanna added: “I can’t imagine what they’re going through right now. A campaign was launched yesterday, and quite right too, to get him a Gallantry Award. What a total hero, huge courage and we can’t thank you enough Jimi and I just think it’s an utter tragedy.”
Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole lost his life saving a woman from the Thames.— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) April 27, 2021
Folajimi’s dad Michael is calling for the government to honour his son.
There is a campaign to get Jimi a posthumous George Cross. pic.twitter.com/1gFZTj0y0W
“This is for the HERO Nigerian Born Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole who died saving the woman… in River Thames on Friday 23/04/2021,” the fundraising page reads.
“On his way back from work, he saw the woman jumping into the river not thinking twice after calling the police, convinced he could do something to save her he jumped in and drowned saving her.
“This is to support the funeral and the rest for post -funeral as he was a hardworking college graduate who at 20 was the family’s breadwinner. He is survived by his aged parents and siblings.
“Your little support will go a long way. Pure- hearted soul. Great helper. Loving boy. RIP JimiTheHero.”
Sad this family just lost another hero Folajimi Olubunmi- Adewole who died saving the woman who attempted suicide in River Thames yesterday. Pure- hearted soul. Great helper. Loving boy. RIP #JimiTheHero pic.twitter.com/EK102lyy7a— MALCOLM’s WORLD FOUNDATION (@Malcolms_World) April 24, 2021
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.
“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.”
Contribute to the fundraiser here.