A piece in today’s Sunday Times:
A good Samaritan drowned in the Thames after trying to save a woman who had fallen from London Bridge.
Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, 20, was one of two men who dived into the water just after midnight yesterday. The coastguard and marine police patrols were able to pull the woman and the other man out of the river alive.
However, Olubunmi-Adewole, known to friends as Jimi, could not be found. His body was discovered almost six hours later after an extensive search involving police helicopters and other emergency services.
The Nigerian-born Briton was a former pupil at the Harris Academy in Peckham, southeast London. Sir Dan Moynihan, chief executive of the Harris Federation, said: “This is incredibly sad news. The selflessness of this brave young man has cost him his life in trying to save the life of another.
“A family and friends have been deprived of watching Folajimi enjoy a successful and happy life full of potential. This is a tragic end to a life of promise — selflessly choosing to get involved in a situation many others would have chosen to ignore. His heroism is typical of the altruism, positivity and good grace that his teachers at Harris Academy remember so well.”
Olubunmi-Adewole was also linked to the charity Malcolm’s World Foundation, set up by the parents of Malcolm Mide-Madariola, a pupil at the school who was murdered in 2018 at the age of 17.
The charity said Olubunmi-Adewole was “a hero” and claimed he had acted after the woman had attempted to end her life. “This is humanity par excellence,” it said in a tweet. “A black-skinned boy jumped into the river to save a white-skinned woman. The woman survived and the boy died. Great lesson here. God created a human being and not a black or white being. Spread love always. RIP #JimiTheHero.”
One of Olubunmi-Adewole’s closest friends, Joseph Sowole, 20, said that he “wasn’t even slightly surprised” to hear about his actions in trying to save the woman.
“He was just that kind of person, always trying to help the next person,” said Sowole, who attended Harris Academy with Olubunmi-Adewole from the age of 11.
“Jimi was a very caring person and a very family orientated person. His mum is just devastated, the whole community is so upset. All he cared about was his mum and dad and his family. Every penny he earned he would spend on his family.” A keen dancer who “enjoyed everything”, Olubunmi-Adewole was “getting to that point where he was really starting to appreciate life and family”.
Sowole said that his friend, who lived with his family in Bermondsey, south London, had been returning home from work on Friday night when he spotted the woman.
Friends paid tribute to Olubunmi-Adewole on social media, praising him and his passion for helping others. “Jimi, it’s going to be weird not seeing you grinning like you always do. Such a clean-hearted kid. To have been so heroic, this really hurts,” wrote one.
Another questioned: “How is it possible that you didn’t survive? Still in shock and still confused … you were selfless as always and will be remembered for that! RIP my brother, rest in the most perfect peace. I pray God welcomes you with open arms.”
Recent figures showed 240 people were rescued by emergency services from the Thames in one year. Dozens of people drowned.
Police are still searching for a 13-year-old boy who fell from Tower Bridge on Tuesday. A woman jumped into the water with a lifebuoy but was able to retrieve only his school bag and blazer. The boy had been on his way to the Ark Globe Academy in Southwark. A handwritten note was found close to where he entered the water.
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