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A North Carolina father of 7 depart this life on Sunday as he heroically tried to rescue four of his children who were drowning in the rough waters of the state’s Wrightsville Beach. Johnny Lee Vann, Jr., 35, was unable to be revived by rescue crews after being pulled from the ocean, despite 45 minutes of CPR, his wife Dawn Vann told WWAY. “You couldn’t ask for a better person,” she told the ABC/CBS/CW-affiliate, adding that she was in shock and denial.

“You could have took anybody else. I mean me personally, I would’ve preferred to take me than him.” According to Dawn, her husband dove into the ocean to save their children seconds after they were swept aside by the raging high tide waves. They had been walking alongside a submerged jetty wall around 4 p.m. local time when they fell into the water. “He never hesitated,” Dawn told WECT-6. “He threw everything down phone, keys and ran out there.” Capt.

Jason Bishop of the Wrightsville Beach Po-lice Department told ABC News that Johnny was able to pull one of his children to safety but was unable to stay above the current after he dove back in for the second. Bystanders and lifeguards on the beach ran to help, but Johnny insisted they save his kids first, Dawn told WECT-6. “They could’ve easily saved him,” she recalled. “He said, ‘Forget about me. Get my kids.’ He didn’t care about nothing else.” After the children were safely on shore, emergency crews found Johnny submerged in the water, WECT-6 reported.

“His spirit is still alive and we’re all going to remember him as a hero,” Johnny’s daughter Kierstyn told WECT-6. His family, who recently moved from Detroit, Michigan, to Durham, have since started a GoFundMe page to help pay for a number of expenses, including potential grief counseling, relocation expenses, and funeration costs of moving Johnny back home to Detroit to be obscured next to his mother.

“Johnny was known to his family and friends as a pillar of jovial spirit,” a description on the GoFundMe page reads of the dad, who is also survived by three brothers, a father, and a sister. “His smile could light up any room and was guaranteed to put a smile on your face.” “Our family is extremely grateful for any financial support and words of encouragement,” the message continues. “Nothing is too small or insignificant, so please feel free to share stories and pictures of Johnny! Thank You.”

This is how people reacted to this post:

Iris Johnson - sympathy to you and your children. He will be with you eternally and he lives on in spirit.

Jewel Holmes - sympathy I'm sorry Kiersten. We send love to your family

Risa - i'm at a loss for words. my praying goes to this children's father.

Topher Ryan - there's so much good in this world and then so much bad. I hope God helps him bear it.

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