An inquest heard that a ‘kind and loving’ hero died after jumping into the River Thames to save a woman he heard screaming for help, despite pleas from onlookers not to do so.
Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, 20, ran down the steps of London Bridge to the river’s edge, undressed, and entered the water after hearing the woman yell “help me, I can’t swim!” earlier this year on April 24.
He and another man, Joaquin Garcia, attempted to swim 40 meters to rescue the terrified woman, but Mr Olubunmi-Adewole got himself into trouble.
The woman and Mr Garcia were rescued by marine police, but Mr Olubunmi-Adewole, known to his friends as ‘Jimi,’ was found dead around five hours later.
On Tuesday, an inquest into his death began at Southwark Coroner’s Court.
Mr Olubunmi-Adewole, a Nigerian-born man, was on his way home from work at a central London restaurant when he began walking across London Bridge around midnight, according to Assistant Coroner Dr Julian Morris.
According to a witness, the two men were seen running before shouting, ‘Where are you?’
A woman was then seen in the Thames waving her arms screaming: ‘Help me, help me, I can’t swim!’
The two men then ran down steps towards the river bank and were seen ‘talking to each other and getting undressed’, the court heard.
Dr Morris said the woman was ‘around 40 metres away’ and the witness recalled hearing members of the public ‘shouting not to go in’.
However, they saw a man jump into the water who ‘appeared to be a good swimmer’.
A second man followed ‘five to 10 seconds later’, before he began calling for help himself.
Police officers arrived at the scene and shone their torches from the river edge as a marine unit searched for the trio.
The woman and Mr Garcia were rescued from the water, but ‘the other male was not found’.
A police helicopter was deployed to assist in the search for Mr Olubunmi-Adewole at around 5.45am, five hours after he jumped into the river.
He was subsequently found close to the shore at around 6am and pronounced dead at the scene.
Dr Morris confirmed a full inquest will take place into the death at a date yet to be fixed.
Mr Olubunmi-Adewole was hailed a hero for his daring rescue effort.
It emerged that he was connected to the charity Malcolm’s World Foundation, which was set up by the parents of his cousin Malcolm Mide-Madaiola, a pupil from the same school who was murdered at the age of 17 in 2018 for protecting a friend near Clapham Tube station.
Jimi’s father Michael Adewola, 63, and his mother Olasunkanmi Adewole, 54, said they are proud of their son for trying to save another person’s life – but they are devastated by his death.
Mr Adewola 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 precious 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.’
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also tweeted that he ‘was the best of us’.
He was posthumously put forward for a Royal Humane Society award by City of London Police for his ‘bravery and selfless actions’.