A North Carolina man died Friday after a “powerful” wave hit him while he was playing with his kids at the beach, breaking his neck. 

A fundraising effort is on for Lee Dingle, whose wife, Shannon, described his death as a “freak accident.” WRAL-TV reported Dingle was 37 years old. 

“My partner, my love, and my home died today after a freak accident,” Shannon Dingle wrote on Twitter. “Lee was playing on the beach with three of our kids yesterday, and an intense wave hit him just right to slam his head into the sand and break his neck.”

She added: “Some heroes – including our kids – tried to save him, but it wouldn’t have mattered what they did. His body couldn’t recover from the initial injury.”

Shannon Dingle recently shared a GoFundMe page she said was started by friends. The campaign has raised more than $108,000 since it was created on Friday. Its goal was $100,000. 

WWAY-TV in North Carolina reported a man in his mid-30s was pulled out of the water at Oak Island on Thursday and taken to the intensive care unit at Hanover Regional Medical Center in North Carolina. 

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“A powerful wave at the beach, something totally unexpected,” family friend April Schweitzer told WRAL-TV. “I think anyone who knew Lee was just a better person for having known him and for having that example of kindness and love and generosity in our lives.” 

Shannon Dingle wrote on Twitter that she’s “overwhelmed” by the support she’s received. 

“We met when I was 18 and he was 19, and we’ve been together ever since,” she wrote. “I wasn’t supposed to be saying goodbye at 37. I don’t know how to be a grown up without him, but I’ll learn. I just wish I didn’t have to.”

Lee Dingle leaves behind six children, four of which were adopted, according to the Archibald Project, a nonprofit that uses “storytelling to spark and expand a movement of people to care for orphaned and vulnerable children in creative and educated ways, in order to combat and end the global orphan crisis.” 

One of the Dingle adoptions was featured on the Archibald Project’s website. 

“We are grieved and saddened to share the tragic passing of a beautiful man and father,” the Archibald Project wrote on Facebook. 

Shannon Dingle is a writer whose work has been featured in USA TODAY, among other publications. In a May opinion piece, Dingle wrote about being pregnant at 12 years old as a result of abuse and her subsequent miscarriage in response to strict anti-abortion laws passed in Ohio and Alabama. 


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