Lee Dingle, 37, was playing on Oak Island’s beach with three of his kids Thursday when the wave hit him, Shannon Dingle said. The force of the impact broke his neck and made his throat swell so much that his brain was deprived of oxygen for too long to recover, she said.He died a day later despite the efforts of some heroes, including their kids, to try to save him, she said.”We met when I was 18 and he was 19, and we’ve been together ever since. I wasn’t supposed to be saying goodbye at 37. I don’t know how to be a grown up without him, but I’ll learn. I just wish I didn’t have to,” she said.Oak Island Water Rescue said on Facebook that it and other agencies provided emergency care to Dingle within minutes of the accident but he did not survive.Dingle was the president of Atlas Engineering in Raleigh, North Carolina, a company that specializes in solving structural problems and repairing other damage at buildings, its website says.Dingle’s profile page said he was a collapse rescue engineer with NC Emergency Management. He had 15 years of experience and graduated from North Carolina State University in 2004 with a degree in civil engineering.”He was a dream employee and coworker, a good friend, a loving, dedicated father, and a wonderfully kind person,” said Chris Coutu, chief engineer and executive vice president at Atlas Engineering.”The loss to his family and to our company is profound. He served his state and community as an Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Engineering Specialist. He was brave, calm, and reassuring; he was somebody one would want around when conditions were dangerous or chaotic. He will be greatly missed.”In 2016 the Dingle family was featured in a story by CNN affiliate WTVD that explored their efforts to modify a van to accommodate their daughter Zoe, who has cerebral palsy and uses a motorized wheelchair. Although they qualified for state funding for vehicle modifications, they struggled to get the state to approve money to cover the bill, WTVD reported.After their story was published, a local resident stepped up to provide the needed equipment, WTVD wrote.CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to this report.