UPDATE: Wife says husband died attempting to rescue children off Wrightsville Beach

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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY)– The wife of a man who attempted to save his children from rough waters Sunday confirms he died trying to rescue them. Witnesses say first responders tried to a revive a man pulled from the water off Wrightsville Beach Sunday afternoon.

New Hanover County Dispatch says a call came in for a drowning near the south end jetty around 4:15 p.m. 35-year-old Johnny Vann died according to his wife Dawn. However it is unclear if he drowned or passed due to a medical event.

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Witnesses there tell us Vann tried to rescue his children from being pushed out to deep water around the jetty. Vann’s wife, Dawn, tells WWAY that he did rescue four of his seven children from the water.

Rescue crews performed CPR on Vann for at least 45 minutes according to his wife. The family was visiting from Durham after recently moving to North Carolina from Michigan.

Mrs. Vann says the other children were rescued by responders and what appeared to be bystanders and lifeguards. WWAY has attempted to hear from Wrightsville Beach Police, Fire and town officials and we are waiting to hear back.



The Vann’s are in the process of coping with this loss. They visit a local church in Burgaw called Kingdom Connection and they are working to create an online fund to help with the costs of Mr. Vann’s burial.