Teenager, 13, caught school bus with friends minutes before walking along Tower Bridge, climbing over barrier and ‘jumping’ into the Thames, inquest hears
Ali, 13, pictured in his Ark Globe Academy school uniform
A London schoolboy climbed over a barrier on Tower Bridge before jumping into the River Thames in front of horrified members of the public, an inquest has heard.
Zaheid Ali, 13, was found dead eight days after jumping into the river on April 20 earlier this year.
Members of the public desperately tried to intervene and retrieve the teenager, but could only recover his school jacket and school bag.
An inquest into his death was opened at Southwark Coroner’s Court on Tuesday.
Dr Julian Morris told the court Zaheid was initially reported missing after failing to attend school at Ark Globe Academy in Elephant and Castle on the day of his death.
The teen had left for school as normal and was travelling with a friend on a bus, but alighted a stop earlier than usual, the inquest heard.
Police evidence states Zaheid was captured on CCTV walking towards Tower Bridge from its south side, before he was seen climbing the barriers and jumping into the River Thames.
Members of the public threw life rings towards the schoolboy and even jumped into the river to try and save him, but were unsuccessful.
The body of Zaheid Ali was recovered eight days after he was seen jumping into the Thames from Tower Bridge
A map shows the distance between his school, Ark Globe Academy, and the River Thames
A police helicopter and marine units also attended the scene a short time later, but the search again failed.
Eight days later, on April 28, police received a report of a body surfacing close to the shore of the Thames.
Officers attended and found Zaheid still in his school uniform – he was identified by an Oyster card found in his blazer.
A subsequent post mortem returned a cause of death of ‘immersion’.
Dr Morris confirmed a full inquest will take place into the child’s death on a date still to be set.
He told the court: ‘Mr Ali was reported missing after not attending school on April 20. He was travelling to school by bus with a friend and got off one stop early and made his way to Tower Bridge.
‘He entered the bridge from the south side before being seen to climb over a barrier and jumping. Members of the public threw life support rings and jumped into the river, but were unable to retrieve him.
‘City of London Police and a marine unit then attended reports of a body recovered on the surface south side of the river.
‘Officers attended and retrieved an Oyster card with Zaheid’s name in it. He was also wearing the school uniform of when he jumped in.’
The Year 8 pupil was said to have been travelling with a friend on a bus but did not arrive at the south London school on the day of his death. Pictured: The scene on April 20
Following the recovery of Zaheid’s body, Ark Globe Academy’s executive principal Matt Jones said: ‘We are very saddened to hear that a body has been found and that the police believe it is the missing student of ours.
‘Our hearts go out to his family and friends.
‘As a school community, we are pulling together ensuring all our students are supported at this difficult time.’
A witness, who was working on a building site on the South Bank, described hearing someone ‘screaming for help’.
She said ‘why isn’t anybody helping him’ before jumping in herself.
The woman could only recover his school bag and jacket, though.