Johnny Lee Vann, Jr. died rescuing his children who were drowning in the waves at Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina.

Vann,  a hero and a father of 7, was only 35 when he passed. 

His wife, Dawn Vann, told local news station WWAY-3 that Johnny jumped in to help when he saw his children fall into the water from a submerged jetty they were walking on. 

According to Johnny saved one of the children and was unable to stay above the current when he went back for the second child. Lifeguards and bystanders went in to help Johnny, who insisted that the children be saved first. 

“You couldn’t ask for a better person, you could have took anybody else. I mean me personally, I would’ve preferred to take me than him,” Dawn told the news station. 

Dawn and witness, Andre Nel, want everyone to know that the south end of Wrightsville Beach is unsafe. Nel, a local fishing charter captain, was there when the incident occurred. Nel said there are not enough signs that warn people about the dangerous high tide. 

“His spirit is still alive and we’re all going to remember him as a hero,” Kierstyn, Johnny’s daughter, told WECT-6. 

His family has started a GoFundMe page to help pay for expenses such as grief counseling, relocation and funeral costs.