Young man drowned in ‘sheer act of bravery’ as he tried to save woman in Thames

·3-min read

A young man who jumped into the River Thames to save a woman died following a “sheer act of bravery”, an inquest has heard.

Folajimi “Jimi” Olubunmi-Adewole, 20, was on his way home from work at a central London restaurant when he and another man, Joaquin Garcia, entered the water near London Bridge at around midnight on April 24 last year.

The Coastguard and the Metropolitan Police Marine Policing Unit rescued the woman and Mr Garcia, but could not locate Mr Olubunmi-Adewole.

On Tuesday, Inner London Coroner’s Court heard Mr Olubunmi-Adewole died as a result of drowning, with no other “significant conditions” found to have impaired him.

He had been walking over the bridge with his friend Bernard Kosia after their shift ended.

In a witness statement read out by assistant coroner Dr Julian Morris, Mr Kosia said the pair were alerted by two other men to the woman in the water.

After hearing the woman screaming out “I can’t swim, I’m going to die”, the pair decided to help her, and called the police.

Mr Kosia’s statement said: “Jimi was saying, ‘We’ve got to save her, she’s not dying’, he was very adamant about this.”

Mr Garcia joined the pair at the water edge after seeing the woman in difficulty.

He said in a witness statement she was “in the water, splashing around” and calling for help around 100 metres from the river bank.

Mr Olubunmi-Adewole and Mr Garcia counted to three and entered the water, the latter jumping first, the inquest heard.

Mr Garcia reached the woman and helped her stay above the river, but did not see Mr Olubunmi-Adewole again.

After being in the water for around 15 minutes, Mr Garcia and the woman were rescued, the inquest was told.

Mr Kosia, who did not enter the river because he cannot swim, said in his statement Mr Olubunmi-Adewole began calling for help shortly after jumping in.

He struggled for a minute and was not seen after that, he said.

Two statements read out from members of the public said people nearby were urging Mr Olubunmi-Adewole and Mr Garcia not to jump.

They spoke of seeing Mr Olubunmi-Adewole disappearing under the water.

Detective Sergeant Stefan Yiannaki, from City of London Police, giving evidence, said Mr Olubunmi-Adewole’s 999 call prior to jumping in was “emotionally charged”.

DS Yiannaki went on: “The conclusion I reached was he died, sadly, that night while trying to save the female.

“It was apparent he had difficulty the moment he hit the water.”

He added: “It was a sheer act of bravery trying to help the woman and losing his life in the process.”

His body was found at 6am that day, close to where he had jumped in.

Listening to the inquest remotely was Mr Olubunmi-Adewole’s brother Ayo, who asked DS Yiannaki why the police response had been slow.

He said: “If the police had done their job right I don’t think Jimi would have jumped in.”

Mr Olubunmi-Adewole was posthumously put forward for a Royal Humane Society award by City of London Police to honour his “memory and heroism” for his “bravery and selfless actions”.

The inquest will conclude later on Tuesday

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