The husband of Christian writer Shannon Dingle and father-of-six died in a "freak accident” on the North Carolina shores last week, sparking an outpouring of support from those in the Christian community.
In a blog post, Dingle revealed her husband, Lee Dingle, was playing with his children on Oak Island when a wave hit him so hard he crashed on the sand, breaking his neck.
She wrote: “My partner, my love, and my home died Friday, July 19, after a freak accident. Lee was playing in the waves at the beach with three of our kids Thursday, July 18, and an intense wave hit him just right to slam his head into the sand, break his neck, and make his throat swell so much his brain was deprived of oxygen for too long to recover. Some heroes — including our kids — tried to save him, but it wouldn’t have mattered what they did. His body couldn’t recover from the initial injury.”
The couple met in their late teens and went on to raise six children, four of whom were adopted. He was 37 when he died. “I don’t know how to be a grown up without him, but I’ll learn. I just wish I didn’t have to,” Dingle wrote.
“In all this, I’m discovering I have the world’s best people. We all feel so held right now, but the person we’d like to hold us won’t do so this side of Heaven. I didn’t know it was possible to feel both so loved and so empty all at the same time. This will be a long haul, our lives forever changed, so please keep loving us well months from now.”
Lee Dingle was the president of Atlas Engineering in Raleigh, North Carolina, a company that assesses older or damaged buildings and designs repairs and upgrades, according to the News & Observer. On Twitter, his wife announced he was a registered organ donor, and his organs will be donated to 55 people.
“I had no doubts that my husband wanted for his body to benefit others,” she wrote, adding: "While we are grateful Lee’s organs will live on in others, please never use this to try to paint a silver lining around our deep grief. We would rather have him here.”
Shannon Dingle is a popular blogger, author and social media personality. She frequently writes on the topics of human trafficking and experience as the survivor of childhood sexual assault by her father, brother and others as well as the subsequent inaction of the church.
Despite her negative experiences, she stayed in the church: “It would make sense for me to have left long ago. But I didn’t, and I haven’t. Why? More than hurt, I have found hope and healing in the church too,” she wrote. “Everything about my faith has been messy, but Jesus had shown up in the mess even when the church hasn’t.”
On her “about me” page, Dingle wrote, “I love stories. I'm beginning to speak mine in ways I never have before, especially when it comes to be disabilities and history of childhood sexual abuse and trafficking.”
As of Wednesday morning, donors had contributed more than $263,000 to a gofundme account set up seeking to cover funeral expenses and provide temporary financial support for Shannon Dingle and the couple’s six children.
On social media there has been an outpouring of support for the Dingle family, particularly from other Christian writers.
Popular Christian writer Shauna Niequist wrote, “I’m so very very sorry, Shannon. Sending love & prayers to you & your family.”
“I Kissed Dating Goodbye” author Joshua Harris tweeted, “I am grieving your terrible loss. I am so sorry.”