A 20-year-old man who died after jumping into the River Thames to save a woman was “adamant” he had to try to rescue her, his friend has said.
Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, who was known as Jimi, was on his way home from work at a central London restaurant when he entered the water at around midnight on Saturday.
His emotional parents described him as someone with “a good heart” as they spoke of their loss.
Tearful Good Morning Britain presenter Susanna Reid said people are “fully behind” a campaign for Mr Olubunmi-Adewole to be awarded a posthumous George Cross for bravery.
His friend, Bernard Kosia, who was with him on the night, described him as a “hero” for what he did.
'Jimi means a lot to everyone.'
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) April 27, 2021
He told the ITV programme: “Jimi was adamant, for some reason, that he didn’t care (about himself). He didn’t think twice as to what was going to happen.
“I just remember him saying ‘Bernard, I have to save her, I’m going to save her’.”
He said: “Jimi means a lot to everyone. Especially around south London now, everyone knows him as a neighbourhood hero.
“To risk your life in such a way, you don’t see that every day.
“And the fact that he was adamant to save that woman, it just shows his nature and his mindset.”
Recalling their last conversations before the incident, Mr Kosia said his friend had spoken about his family and told him he loved him.
He said: “They (our conversations) were just always about family, loved ones, what we have to do for them to make sure that they’re OK.”
He added: “We started joking around and I just remember Jimi looking at me like ‘Bernard, you know I love you, right?’
“And I was like ‘Bro, I know you do, man’.”
Describing being alerted to the incident at London Bridge, he said they were approached by two men who showed them a video of a woman “jumping over the bridge”.
He said they called 999 and heard a woman shouting “I’m dying, I’m dying” but could not see anything because it was “pitch black”.
Mr Kosia said he cannot swim but his friend and another man went into the water to try to rescue the woman.
He said he heard his friend shouting his name “but the shout wasn’t normal, it was pain”.
Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole lost his life saving a woman from the Thames.
Folajimi's dad Michael is calling for the government to honour his son.
There is a campaign to get Jimi a posthumous George Cross. pic.twitter.com/1gFZTj0y0W
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) April 27, 2021
Mr Olubunmi-Adewole’s father, Michael Adewola, and mother, Olasunkanmi Adewole, wept as they paid tribute to their son.
Mr Adewola said: “I want the Government to honour him.”
He added: “Jimi was a good soul to me.”
Describing him as “the breadwinner of the house”, he said he was “always taking care of me and my wife and his friends”.
He thanked all those who have supported a GoFundMe page set up to help the family – which has so far raised more than £88,000.
Mrs Adewole said her son “had a good heart”.
The couple have previously been reported as saying they believe the length of the search for their son in the water was “not enough”, adding that they “want justice” for him.
The Coastguard and the Metropolitan Police’s marine unit rescued the woman and one of the men, but could not locate the other.
A body was found at 6am on Saturday morning, police said, which has since been formally identified as that of Mr Olubunmi-Adewole.
Detective Chief Superintendent Oliver Shaw, from City of London Police, described him as a “brave, kind and selfless young man”.
He said: “Our officers arrived extremely quickly to the scene but two members of the public had already entered the water.
“One man had managed to swim to the woman and they were both seen above water by the Coastguard. Sadly, there was no sign of the other rescuer.
“We remained on scene to assist the marine units and police helicopter with the search in the water. This was stood down by the Coastguard over an hour later.
“We continued to search the shore of the river, in person and using our network of CCTV cameras, and, unfortunately, at 05.46 a body was discovered.
“The circumstances of this incident are extremely tragic. We continue to support the family of this heroic young man who heartbreakingly lost his own life trying to save that of another.”
A spokesperson for the coastguard said: “HM Coastguard’s first priority is always to save lives and we will continue to search the surface of the water within a search area until either the missing person has been found or a decision is taken to stand down the search.
“These decisions are taken after serious consideration of all the facts and take into consideration the feelings of the family and friends of those who are missing.
“The search involved five search-and-rescue boats, visual searches from bridges and the police helicopter searching overhead. Despite initial conflicting reports about how many people had gone into the water, we based our search on the fact there could be three.
“It was determined where in the water the person could be based on tidal conditions and that area was thoroughly searched many times before the decision was taken to suspend the search at 1.20am.”