Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole: Family call for Thames hero to be honoured ahead of inquest

Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole died trying to save a woman from the Thames  (Malcolm World Foundation)
Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole died trying to save a woman from the Thames (Malcolm World Foundation)

The heartbroken family of a young man who died attempting to save a woman from drowning in the Thames say they hope an inquest into his death will lead to him being awarded a posthumous medal for bravery.

Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, 20, known as Jimi, has been hailed a hero for plunging into the water on his way home from a late shift in April as he heard screams for help from the river.

Not considering his own safety he attempted a rescue but never resurfaced with his body later found by search teams.

Assistant coroner Julian Morris said on Tuesday witnesses reported Mr Olubunmi-Adewole and his friend undressing partially before attempting the rescue.

Reading from a witness statement at the opening of the inquest at Inner South London Coroner’s Court Dr Morris said: “The boys ran down the steps to the river bank. They were talking to each other and were partially undressed. They (the witnesses) could hear people saying not to jump in. They saw one man jump in and swim out and appeared to be a good swimmer. The second jumped downe five to ten seconds after and then began asking for assistance himself.”

The coroner described how marine police with searchlights found Mr Folajimi’s body.

His friend and the woman were pulled to safety from the river bank, the inquest opening heard.

Jimi’s uncles Olumide Wole-Madariola told the Standard that the family knew nothing would bring him back but it would be a ‘consolation’ for them if the inquest at Inner South London Coroner’s Court, which opens on Tuesday, led to him being awarded with a George Cross.

He said: “We do not want to blame anyone for what happened but we want the inquest to recognise Jimi as a hero. He should get a medal for what he has done. It would be a consolation for the family who are suffering so much. Not a day goes by without us thinking of him. He was such a good person and deserves to be remembered as a hero. We want the inquest to be highlight that.”

The woman Jimi was trying to save managed to get out of the Thames unharmed.

Tributes poured in for Jimi who lived with his family in Bermondsey with calls for him to be given a posthumous medal.

His father Michael, 63, said: “He is a hero and always will be.”

Pop star Dua Lipa paid tribute to him at the Brit awards in May and joined calls for him and fellow rescuer Joaquin Garcia, 21, to be given bravery awards.

The death was the second tragedy for the family after Jimi’s cousin Malcolm Mide-Madariola, 17, was fatally stabbed trying to protect a teenager in Clapham in 2018.

The inquest was adjourned to a date yet to be fixed.

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