Dad of ‘hero’ son who died in River Thames urges UK honor

LONDON (AP) — The father of a 20-year-old man who died after jumping into the River Thames near London Bridge to save a woman joined a campaign Tuesday to persuade the British government to honor his son for his brave and selfless act.

Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, who was widely known as Jimi, was on his way home from work at a central London restaurant when he entered the water along with another man around midnight on Saturday. River authorities rescued the woman and the other man, but Olubunmi-Adewole’s body was recovered around six hours later.

“I want the government to honor him,” the young man’s father, Michael Adewola, said on the ITV channel’s “Good Morning Britain” program.

Adewola described his son as the breadwinner of the family’s house in southeast London, saying he was “always taking care of me and my wife and his friends.”

Olubunmi-Adewole’s actions have captured the imagination of the British public. His father thanked people who had supported a crowdfunding page set up to help the family. The page had raised around 100,000 pounds ($138,000) by Tuesday.

An online campaign to award him with a posthumous George Cross, Britain’s highest civilian award for bravery, also has been launced.

His friend Bernard Kosia, who was with Olubunmi-Adewole on the night he died, described him as a “hero” for what he did.

“I just remember him saying, ‘Bernard, I have to save her, I’m going to save her’,” Kosia told the ITV program. “Jimi means a lot to everyone, especially around south London now. Everyone knows him as a neighborhood hero.

“To risk your life in such a way, you don’t see that every day.” he added.

Describing being alerted to the incident at London Bridge, Kosia said they were approached by two men who showed them a video of a woman “jumping over the bridge”.

He said they called the emergency services and heard a woman shouting “I’m dying, I’m dying” but could not see anything because it was “pitch black.”

Kosia said he cannot swim butthat his friend and another man went into the water to try to rescue the woman.

A spokesperson for Her Majesty’s Coastguard said the search for Olubunmi-Adewole involved five search-and-rescue boats, visual searches from bridges and a police helicopter.

“The circumstances of this incident are extremely tragic.” the spokesperson said. “We continue to support the family of this heroic young man who heartbreakingly lost his own life trying to save that of another.”

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