'Freak wave' kills dad playing with his children at beach

A father of six has died in a freak beach accident where an “intense wave” slammed him into the sand and broke his neck.

Lee Dingle, 37, had been playing with three of his children at Oak Island beach in North Carolina on Friday (local time) when tragedy struck, his wife said.

In a post to Instagram, wife Shannon Dingle, 37, said the impact made “his throat swell so much his brain was deprived of oxygen for too long to recover”.

“Lee was playing on the beach with three of our kids yesterday, and an intense wave hit him just right to slam his head into the sand [and] break his neck,” Ms Dingle wrote in her post.

Lee and Shannon Dingle had been together for 19 years and shared six children. Source: Instagram/shannondingle

“Some heroes – including our kids – tried to save him, but it wouldn’t have mattered what they did. His body couldn’t recover from the initial injury.”

Ms Dingle explained the couple met when she was 18 and he was 19, and had been in a loving relationship ever since.

Oak Island Water Rescue said in a Facebook post emergency workers and bystanders worked to give Mr Dingle “the best chance for survival”.

They transported him to hospital, but he succumbed to his injuries.

Mr Dingle had been promoted to president of Atlas Engineering in Raleigh, North Carolina, just two weeks beforehand.

Four of the six children he shared with his wife were adopted and one of their girls has cerebral palsy.

Atlas Engineering senior partner Tom Caldwell described Mr Dingle as “calm, friendly, humble, and very, very capable”, CNN reported.

"He always put others ahead of himself. His kind do not come along often. We will miss him terribly,” Mr Caldwell said.

Mr Dingle also worked with the North Carolina Emergency Management, and was part of the Urban Search and Rescue squad, which rescues trapped people and helps to recover bodies.

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