But, despite bystanders performing CPR, he was unable to be resuscitated.
Mr Vann’s wife, Dawn, said ‘you couldn’t ask for a better person.’
She also told news station WECT-6 that her husband would ‘never hesitated’ to rescue their brood.
She said, ‘He threw everything down – phone, keys – and ran out there.
The Vann family has started a GoFundMe to pay for funeral expenses for the dad of seven kids.
Ms Vann wrote on the page, ‘My love, I’m so lost with you.’
The page described Mr Vann as, ' a pillar of jovial spirit.'
It said, 'His smile could light up any room and was guaranteed to put a smile on your face. His family recently moved to North Carolina to secure a better quality of life and was excited for the start of a new chapter.'
Many hailed the father a hero.
One woman wrote on the page, 'Never underestimate the love from a dad.'