Rodgers honeymoon tragedy: Friends pay emotional tributes to 'lovely, bubbly young woman'
Friends have paid moving tributes to Lynette Rodgers, describing her a "lovely, bubbly young woman" who was looking forward to married life.
Alliance MLA Judith Cochrane was among many voicing their shock at the sudden death of the newlyweds.
Ms Cochrane, who knew Lynette, a physiotherapist at the Ulster Hospital, said the whole family were in the thoughts and prayers of many.
"She had lived close by to me and I was treated by Lynette a few months ago," she said.
"She was just lovely and bubbly and would speak about how excited she was about getting married.
"It is just so sad, what has happened."
Wedding photographer Caroline Smyth, who took the pictures at the young couple's nuptials a week ago, voiced her disbelief at the tragedy.
Posting one of the photographs she took a week ago on her Facebook page, she said: "I am sitting here and still can't believe I am posting this. Words just seem futile at the minute. My thoughts and condolences are with both John and Lynette's family and close circle of friends."
Sandra Gallagher also wrote on the page about how the news had devastated the congregation yesterday at First Holywood Presbyterian Church, where the couple had married.
"Church was so heartbreaking this morning and when I look at that beautiful photo inside church, how gorgeous Lynette looks and how happy they both look - to never see her again is so unbelievable. How their parents, family and friends will ever come to terms with this I really don't know, my heart is breaking for Eva.x"
Geraldine Maguire wrote: "So, so sad. My heart and prayers go out to their families and friends. Words are useless in times of such tragic and sudden deaths. Bewilderment that such a tragedy could happen."
Rev Stephen Lowry of First Holywood Presbyterian Church said the congregation had been plunged into "intensive grief".
"Lynette grew up here among us in this church family and many of us will remember her in the GB (Girls Brigade) and as she played in the faith band," he said.
"Our prayers are very much with Lynette's mother Eva Reilly and her brother Graham, and the parents of her husband John, Billy and Joanne and their extended families and friends at this time."
Both the First and Deputy First Minister have also expressed their condolences.
Peter Robinson said: "Devastating news from South Africa. A life together cut short by such tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are with both families."
Martin McGuinness said: "Very sad to hear the tragic news of young Co Down couple who were drowned whilst on honeymoon in South Africa. My sympathy to their families."
Local MLA Gordon Dunne, who knows the families, said the close-knit community was numb with "widespread shock".
"This is an absolutely tragedy and my heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family of both the young man and young lady who have sadly passed away.
"For a tragedy like this to happen days after their wedding during their honeymoon is beyond words.
"There is widespread shock and a real sense of numbness within the local community in Holywood at this time, particularly as the young lady was born in Holywood, attended the local schools in the area, and was from a very well-respected family.
"My heart goes out to the grieving families and I trust and pray that the family may know God's help at this tragic time."
Alliance MLA Andrew Muir said: "Thoughts and prayers with familes and friends of Holywood couple John and Lynette Rodgers who died in South Africa on Honeymoon. Horrendous news."
Former world boxing champion Barry McGuigan also passed on his condolences.
He tweeted: "Dreadfully sad to hear about the young newlywed NI couple John and Lynette Rodgers who drowned off the coast of SA, RIP deepest sympathies."