‘Hero’ dad drowns after trying to save his kids at the beach

He was described as a 'pillar of jovial spirit'

A dad has tragically died after trying to save his two children.

Johnny Lee Vann Jr, 35, was at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, US, with his kids on Sunday (14 July).

According to ABC News, the family were walking along the jetty wall when a wave swept the children into the water.

Mr Vann dived in after them, rescuing one of the kids before jumping back in to save the other.

Captain Jason Bishop of Wrightsville Beach Police Department, was told by witnesses that when the brave dad went in for the second time, he struggled in the water and went under for 30 seconds.

He was pulled out while his other child was rescued.

Johnny Lee Vann Jr and his wife, Dawn
Johnny Lee Vann Jr and his wife, Dawn (Credit: GoFundMe)

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.’

Related stories