Heartbroken friend pays tribute to hero as plaque is unveiled on spot he jumped in to save woman

A hero who died after diving into the Thames to save a drowning man has been honored with a plaque.

Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, 20, was found dead six hours after entering the water off London Bridge in April 2021 to rescue a woman in distress.

The woman and Joaquim Garcia, another possible rescuer, were rescued from the river by Coast Guard and Navy police, but Jimi could not be found.

Friends and family gathered on the banks of the Thames on Sunday afternoon to watch the plaque unveiled at the spot where Jimi jumped in to save the woman.

Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, 20, jumped into the Thames to save a woman who was drowning in April 2021. He told his friend Bernard Kosia not to follow him, knowing that he could not swim

Bernard Kosia, a friend of Jimi, paid tribute to his friend and said it was important for children in their community to learn from his sacrifice

Bernard Kosia, a friend of Jimi, paid tribute to his friend and said it was important for children in their community to learn from his sacrifice

Jimi’s boyfriend, Bernard Kosia, a camera assistant at ITV, told GMB on Monday that he was grateful for all the support Jimi’s loved ones had received.

He described seeing the plaque to his friend for the first time as “surreal” and thanked London Mayor Sadiq Khan for his help.

“It was surreal. I actually froze for a minute or so admiring the plaque itself. I am immensely grateful to everyone who is a part of this journey and supports us in any way they can.

“And I’m more grateful to Sadiq Khan for being a huge part of us over the course of this.”

Mr. Kosia, who was with Jimi the night he died but didn’t follow him into the water because he can’t swim, has a hard time talking about the accident.

The plaque at London Bridge, where Jimi ran down the steps to the water's edge to try and save the woman

The plaque at London Bridge, where Jimi ran down the steps to the water’s edge to try and save the woman

Friends and family gathered for the unveiling ceremony, which was also attended by London Mayor Sadiq Khan

Friends and family gathered for the unveiling ceremony, which was also attended by London Mayor Sadiq Khan

Jimi's mother, Olasunkanmi Adewole, said her son was a hero and she was grateful for the support she received

Jimi’s mother, Olasunkanmi Adewole, said her son was a hero and she was grateful for the support she received

He said he was excited that his friend’s legacy would live on and that children in their community would have the opportunity to learn about Jimi.

“I just want to make sure he can live on, even if I’m dead and my life here is over, Jimi now has a way and a legacy to live on. Kids in the community who want to know the story, this is their way of knowing who Jimi is and what he’s done for everyone.”

He paid tribute to his friend, who he said was a role model and widely respected by his community.

“Jimi was a sparkling person, a loving person. You could hear Jimi for miles and just knew it was him. He was just that guy in the neighborhood that everyone loved. Positive – and that was his mentality.

“The things he would teach you, he would never say, but you would look at him and how he lived his life and it would make you want to live that way too.

So one thing he never did was to care about people’s opinions. That’s a rule he lived by. You could pass judgment on him, but he would just bypass that shit, just brush it aside.

“He said, ‘I am me and this is me.’

Hosted by the Living Bankside Charity, the unveiling ceremony was attended by many of Jimi's family and friends

Hosted by the Living Bankside Charity, the unveiling ceremony was attended by many of Jimi’s family and friends

But Mr Kosia also admitted that he still struggles to talk about his friend, but said he finds peace in the support he has received.

“I find it hard to talk about my emotions and I don’t really talk much about what’s going through my head or how I’m living my life. And everyone sees from the outside, yes, he is positive and everything. But behind closed doors, I have my days when I’m emotional.

“Beyond just seeing how everything came out and how everything turned out, I find peace in it and as time goes on I slowly start to really regain my strength.”

Jimi’s mother, who visits the site regularly, told BBC Newsbeat at the unveiling on Sunday that she was grateful for the recognition of Jimi’s bravery.

“Jimi is a hero and that’s why everyone came here today. I am so grateful.’

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who also attended the ceremony organized by the Living Bankside charity, described Jimi as ‘the best of us all’.

“His parents’ pain will never go away, but we can make it easier by talking about Jimi’s story.”

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