'A freak accident:' Wave off Oak Island breaks Raleigh man's neck, kills him

OAK ISLAND, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Raleigh 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," said 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 for the family who said there were state funding delays and obstacles.

Now, loved ones are saying Lee Dingle was an amazing father.

"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," Schweitzer said about the father of six. "I feel like anyone who knew him was a better person from their interactions with him."

Dingle's 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, more than $150,000 has been raised for his family on GoFundMe so far--with the goal set at $200,000.

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

RELATED: ABC11 viewer grants family's wish for a modified van

Dingle's family told WSOC that all of his organs will be donated to 55 people - as a final act of selflessness.
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