The family of a man who died after jumping into the River Thames to save a woman who fell from London Bridge says the search for him ended too soon. 20-year-old Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, known as Jimi, was on his way home from work with a friend, Bernard, when they heard a woman had fallen into the Thames.
Jimi and another man entered the water at 00:10 BST on Saturday in an effort to rescue the woman. The coastguard and the Met Police’s marine unit rescued the woman and the other man. Jimi was however not found after an hour-long search. A body, believed to be that of Jimi’s, was discovered six hours later.
Jimi’s parents Michael Adewola, 63, and his mother Olasunkanmi Adewole, 54, say they want “justice” for their son. “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,” Jimi’s mom told Sky News.
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His father, Mr. Adewola, said the search for his son was “not enough”, adding that the search teams could have done more to save his son.
In another interview with the Sun newspaper, he said his son deserved a medal for his bravery. “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 is a hero, and always will be,” he continued. “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.”
Jimi’s friend Bernard narrated what happened to Sky News. He said while he and Jimi were on their way home that Saturday, they heard 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.”
Bernard said Jimi dived into the water along with the other man to try and rescue the woman, “because that’s how Jimi is – Jimi is pure at heart”. Bernard said he later heard Jimi shouting his name.
“Someone should have been there, someone should have jumped in and tried to rescue both of them,” he said. “At least rescue my friend…”
A spokesperson for the City of London Police said: “Our officers arrived extremely quickly to the scene but two members of the public had already entered the water. One man had managed to swim to the woman and they were both seen above water by the Coastguard.”
“Sadly, there was no sign of the other rescuer,” Detective Chief Supt Oliver Shaw said. “We remained on scene to assist the marine units and police helicopter with the search in the water. This was stood down by the Coastguard over an hour later.
“We continued to search the shore of the river, in person and using our network of CCTV cameras, and unfortunately, at 05.46 a body was discovered.”
The Maritime & Coastguard Agency told Sky News that it suspended its own search before Jimi was found. “Despite our best efforts, the sad decision was made to suspend the search at 1.20 am when no sign of the person was found,” Matt Leat, HM Coastguard’s Strategic Maritime Commander, said.
At the moment, police have not said how the woman fell into the river. On Monday, Jimi’s school, Harris Academy Peckham, held a two-minute commemorative clap in his honor, according to BBC.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan posted on Twitter after the tragic incident that Jimi “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.”