After rescuing one of the children swept off by a wave, a North Carolina father died in his efforts to save his other children, according to police.

The tragic episode happened on Sunday afternoon at the state’s Wrightsville Beach when two of Johnny Lee Vann Jr.’s children were walking on a jetty wall when they were suddenly swept off by a wave, Capt. Jason Bishop of the Wrightsville Beach Police Department told ABC News.

The dad acted immediately. He was able to rescue one of the children, but when he went back to the ocean for the other child, he couldn’t stay above the water, Bishop said.

Andre Nel, a fishing charter caption, was on the beach at the time of the incident and called 911.

Vann and other child were rescued after he was witnessed underwater for about 30 minutes.

After about 30 to 40 minutes of CPR, 35-year-old Johhny Venn could not be revived, Wrightsville Beach town officials said in a statement on Monday.

Vann’s wife, Dawn Vann, told ABC Wilmington affiliate WWAY the family is in shock and denial,

“You couldn’t ask for a better person, you could have took anybody else,” she said. “I would’ve preferred to take me than him.”

The area of the beach is not safe, both Dawn and Nel said. The jetty should be taller and taken out of the water completely. During high tide, it is not visible and two warning signs about the potential danger were blown away during Hurricane Matthew and never replaced.

Tim Owens, Wrightsville Beach town manager, confirmed this but says it is the responsibility of the Army Corps of Engineers to replace.

“There needs to be a lifeguard station right here,” Nel said to ABC. “If there was a lifeguard station right here yesterday, this would not have happened.” 
The family has started a GoFundMe account to raise money for Johnny Vann’s funeral. His pastor Tyrone Pickett said Johnny was training to become a minister, and was in church in Burgaw on Sunday before this happened.

Categories: U.S.