Belfast Telegraph

Rodgers honeymoon tragedy: It's easy to forget dangers of beach

Journalist Chris McCullough has visited Plettenberg Bay several times and knows of the dangers of rip currents

As a seasoned travelling reporter, I have spent many weeks taking in the idyllic sights which the coastline and countryside of South Africa have to offer.

The views along the coastline are simply breathtaking and it is easy to forget where you are for a moment.

With a much more favourable climate than Northern Ireland, the chance to hop into the sea in South Africa is extremely tempting.

For the two young newlyweds from here this temptation, normally enough, was too great and they had to take a swim.

Tragically, the lives of John and Lynette Rodgers were taken almost instantly as a giant wave, described by residents of Plettenberg Bay as a "rogue, freak wave", tossed the couple into the strong rip currents, which proved impossible to fight.

Their distraught families at home, the Reilly and Rodgers families, can only imagine what exactly went on, being so far away.

But what they do know is that their loved ones are not coming home from their honeymoon, something that is very hard to comprehend.

It's all too easy to get caught up in the moment on holiday and take things for granted.

I, too, am guilty of this.

Having spent months travelling as a younger reporter, I ventured on to many beaches and areas that I was none too familiar with.

A good sign on whether a place is safe or not is to look at how many other people are around.

It was on one of my daily visits to Byron Bay, on Australia's south-eastern coast, that I learned a very valuable lesson in life. Sure, I got caught in the moment that was sun, sea and surf and jumped into the ocean as waves came tearing 10 metres over my head.

Not being a great swimmer I knew to stay with friends, but as the waves got stronger, I was thrown on to rocks, and into a rip current, but thankfully managed to get out of it. I learned my lesson the hard way.

We all hear of the dangers associated with the sea, especially in South Africa and Australia, but, like me, take them for granted.

A man who works at Robberg Beach told me yesterday that the swell that swept John and Lynette away was a freak wave, something they do not see too much of in the area.

Sadly, there is nothing that can prepare us for freak accidents.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph