Dad-of-two lay dead for two days after he slipped and fell into deep hole in his back yard
A man lay dead for up to two days after hitting his head when he fell down a hole in his back yard.
Dennis Rodgers (43) was eventually discovered by a neighbour at the rear of the house he was renting in Rathfriland, Co Down late on Wednesday night.
It is believed he had fallen two days earlier, on Monday night.
One of his younger brothers, Darren, told the Belfast Telegraph that a health and safety investigation is currently under way into the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.
Dennis was separated from his wife, Sharon, and together the couple had a son, Patrick (6) and a daughter, Rebecca (8).
It is understood construction work had been taking place at the rear of the house.
"Monday night was very cold and the house that Dennis rented had run out of oil," Darren said.
He had walked to the local filling station and brought back a jar of oil to keep him going.
"There was some construction work going on in the back yard and Dennis was trying to empty the oil into the tank.
"It looks like he slipped and fell into a deep hole in the yard, hitting his head on the concrete.
"Dennis was a big lad at six feet tall and must have hit the concrete hard.
"The last calls on his phone were on Monday evening so sadly he lay in the hole from then until he was found late on Wednesday evening by his neighbour.
"The family want to find out exactly what happened."
Darren described his brother as "a real outgoing fella who loved life," adding, "He was a plasterer by trade and everyone knew him.
"I was speaking to him myself on Monday night just after six o'clock and all was OK.
"He was separated from his wife and deeply loved his kids. They have been hit bad by this.
"When people called to his house on Wednesday evening they found the door was open and the TV was on.
"It was only when they asked the neighbour if he had seen Dennis that he actually went out the back to look and found him in the hole. It was a very deep hole and was quite full of water as there had been heavy rain on the Monday night.
"It is sad to think he lay there all that time before being found. He was a good brother and would have done anything for anyone. We will miss him dearly."
SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie offered sympathy to the family.
She said: "I want to offer my deepest sympathies to Sharon, to her children and the wider Rodgers and Morgan family.
"I'm acquainted with both families. I also know Sharon's father Paddy Morgan very well, who has been a stalwart for the SDLP for many years."
Mrs Ritchie added: "I know people in Downpatrick who know the Rodgers family will want to support them and help them in whatever way is possible.
"They want to be there to support the family and to stand in solidarity with them."
The funeral service for Dennis is being held today at noon in St John the Baptist Church, Ballygorain in Hilltown.
Burial will take place in the adjoining cemetery afterwards.