'A freak accident:' Wave breaks man's neck and kills him

OAK ISLAND, North Carolina -- A family is grieving after a deadly accident happened while they were on vacation.

On Friday, 37-year-old Lee Dingle was in the ocean playing with his kids when a wave pushed his head to the ground and broke his neck.

According to Shannon Dingle, Lee's wife, swelling from the injury caused the 37-year-old to suffocate.

"It just breaks your heart," stated April Schweitzer, a family friend. "You feel just such overwhelming sorrow and grief for the family."

Schweitzer spoke to ABC11 outside the Dingle family's home in Raleigh on Saturday. Naturally, Shannon was too emotional to speak.

ABC11 first met the Dingles in 2016, when troubleshooter Diane Wilson covered the moment a Durham medical supply business gifted their daughter Zoe an electric lift for her motorized wheelchair.

The support was a relief after state funding delays and obstacles according to the family.

Now, loved ones say Lee Dingle was an awesome dad.

"How he saw each child for who they were uniquely and just supported them in that, encouraged them and was just always there for them," stated Schweitzer. "I feel like anyone who knew him was a better person from their interactions with him."

Dingles colleagues tell ABC11 they are also grieving.

For 15 years, Dingle worked for Atlas Engineering in Raleigh.

A partner at the firm says Atlas was Dingle's dream job, and he was a dream employee.

The engineering firm promoted Dingle to partner just three weeks ago.

Dingle's freak accident at the beach is no doubt a financial set back for his family. However, as of Saturday afternoon, more than $68,000 has been raised for his family on GoFundMe, surpassing its $50,000 goal.

If you would like to donate, you can click here.
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