North Carolina

NC husband, father of 6, dies in freak accident at beach. Support for family pours in.

The husband of Raleigh Christian writer and activist Shannon Dingle died Friday after a wave sent him crashing onto the beach, hitting his head, his wife said on social media.

Lee Dingle was in the ocean playing with his children, Shannon Dingle wrote on Twitter and Facebook. WRAL reported the family was on Oak Island.

Lee Dingle is survived by his wife and six children by birth and adoption.

“My partner, my love, and my home died today after a freak accident,” Shannon Dingle wrote. “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.

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

A GoFundMe page soliciting money for the family had raised over $103,000 as of 3 p.m. Sunday.

Lee Dingle just last month became the president of Atlas Engineering in Raleigh where he had worked for 15 years, according to his LinkedIn page.

The couple met when he was 19 and she was 18, Shannon Dingle wrote. He graduated from N.C. State University. She attended UNC-Chapel Hill.

“I wasn’t supposed to be saying goodbye at 37,” she wrote. “I don’t know how to be a grown up without him, but I’ll learn. I just wish I didn’t have to.”

Shannon Dingle is a Christian writer and activist whose writing has been featured in USA Today, The Washington Post and Teen Vogue. She is a survivor of sex trafficking and abuse as a child, and her activism focuses on religion, sexual assault and disability advocacy.

In May, she wrote about her childhood pregnancy and miscarriage at age 12 in a USA Today opinion article in opposition to strict abortion laws in Ohio and Alabama.

The couple’s adoption of one of their children, Zoe, was documented by The Archibald Project, a group that raises awareness about and advocates for orphans worldwide.

“We are grieved and saddened to share the tragic passing of a beautiful man and father,” the organization posted on its Facebook page.

“We first met Lee Dingle in the Taipei airport as we were traveling with he and his wife, Shannon, to document their first adoption of a little Taiwanese girl with Cerebral Palsy,” the post stated.

“Over the years we’ve watched Lee and Shannon fight injustice and open their home and hearts. Lee leaves behind his 6 children, 3 are a sibling group from Uganda, 2 biological and 1 from Taiwan, and his wonderful and strong wife, Shannon.,” it continued, asking people to donate to the GoFundMe page:

“It just breaks your heart,” family friend April Schweitzer told ABC11, The News & Observer’s media partner, outside the Dingles’ home Saturday.

“[Lee] saw each child for who they were uniquely and just supported them in that, encouraged them and was just always there for them,” she said. “I feel like anyone who knew him was a better person from their interactions with him.”

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Mark Schultz is the deputy metro editor for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He has been an editor, reporter and photographer in North Carolina for 30 years.