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Rodgers tragedy: Post-mortem tests carried out on bodies of drowned newlyweds

By Claire McNeilly

Published 28/10/2015

Tragic couple John and Lynette Rodgers cut their wedding cake on their big day
Tragic couple John and Lynette Rodgers cut their wedding cake on their big day
John and Lynette Rodgers

Post-mortem examinations have been carried out on the bodies of a newlywed couple from Co Down who died on honeymoon in South Africa just six days after they got married.

Lynette (26) and 28-year-old John Rodgers drowned after getting into difficulties at Plettenberg Bay on the Western Cape on Friday.

Members of the British Consulate will today complete a formal identification so that a report into their deaths can be completed and their bodies returned home to Northern Ireland as soon as possible.

A close friend of the young couple said the physiotherapist from Holywood and her husband John, who was originally from Ballygowan and worked for a Belfast printing company, "were taken far too soon".

Victoria Carney (27), who made their wedding cake, also said her thoughts are with both families at this heartbreaking time.

"My heart goes out to everyone," she told the Belfast Telegraph. "Lynette and I had a strong relationship since childhood and this was mind-numbingly unexpected."

Miss Carney, a recruitment consultant and part-time baker, said that Lynette was one of the first friends she made when they went to Sullivan Upper School, before they both then headed off to different universities in Glasgow. In a moving tribute on her Facebook page, she told of her joy at being invited to celebrate their nuptials on October 17, less than a week before they lost their lives in a tragic accident.

"I was so pleased to be asked to make the wedding cake by my old and dear friend Lynette and was thrilled to attend the wedding to her soul mate John," she wrote.

"Hearing and seeing the news regarding what has happened has broken my heart but I am SO glad to have known such beautiful people and participated in the happiest day of their devastatingly short lives.

"Lynette and John, rest in peace together and know that while you are gone you will never be forgotten for the wonderful, kind and generous spirited people you are."

Police spokesman Captain Malcolm Pojie told the Belfast Telegraph that both post-mortem examinations were carried out yesterday.

"Autopsies have been performed on both bodies but we won't know the results for some time," the officer said. "Members from the British Consulate will now proceed with the formal identification process and we hope to have a preliminary report later in the week."

Lynette's devastated work colleagues at the Ulster Hospital have arranged for a wreath to be placed in the sea in South Africa in tribute to the young couple from Holywood, who died not long after checking into their five-star beach hotel.

The close-knit team of physiotherapists also expressed their "great sadness" at the loss of their dear friend and colleague.

A South African artist has also paid his respects to the tragic newlyweds by making a giant sculpture of a man, a woman and a dolphin out of sand at Robberg beach, where they were found.

Lynette and John are thought to have drowned in heavy surf with strong rip currents after taking a swim together shortly after arriving in the popular resort town.

Her distraught mother Eva Reilly said her only daughter's death was "too much to take in", adding it had left her "numb".

John's family said: "They will always be remembered as one, a couple destined to be together for ever."

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