Family of art student who drowned during heatwave warn: 'Don't go swimming in the Thames'

Liam Coleman

The family of a young artist who drowned in the Thames during the heatwave today warned Londoners to stay out of the river, saying: “No family should go through what we have.”

Illustration student Jonathan Adebanjo, 23, vanished while swimming with friends at Shadwell Basin as the capital basked in warm weather on Tuesday evening. His body was recovered 16 hours later.

He was one of three people who drowned in the Thames in three hours, after a 47-year-old swimmer died in Kingston and another person vanished in the water at Waterloo Bridge.

Today, Mr Adebanjo’s family urged Londoners to avoid unsupervised water. His sister Tundun, 22, said: “He wasn’t the only person that disappeared on that day ... we need to put a warning out there to be careful. It’s easy to think nothing bad can happen because the sun is out but there’s still a risk, and it’s very evident after what happened to Jonathan.”

Emergency services at the scene at Shadwell Basin in Wapping, east London (Emma Reilly)
Emergency services at the scene at Shadwell Basin in Wapping, east London (Emma Reilly)

She added: “When they were fishing his body out, there were still kids jumping in ... people have seen it in the news, they’ve seen the risk and they’re still doing it.”

Mr Adebanjo, known as “Banjo” to his friends, lived in Catford and was a keen skateboarder. He was due to enter his final year at Camberwell College of Arts, part of the University of the Arts London. His father said he was a competent swimmer, but added: “Nobody expected him to be in that water. It was unusual for him to go and swim there.”

His youngest sister, Toun, 20, said: “He was always laughing. His loves were skateboarding and art, he always took his board and his sketchbook everywhere with him.

“He was talented, passionate and bright. He was a good friend but being funny and wise were among his greatest qualities.” She added: “No family should have to go through what we have. He will be missed dearly.”

David Crow, head of Camberwell College of Arts, also paid tribute, saying: “Everyone who met him was charmed by his sweetness and individuality of spirit — he was a winning combination of dreamy, funny and thoughtful. It is a tragedy we will not see his talents develop further.” The RNLI, police and London Ambulance Service have all renewed warnings about the dangers of swimming in cold water.