Officials say a North Carolina judge and the woman he tried to rescue both drowned off Sunset Beach.
A third person also drowned off Ocean Isle Beach, and authorities say rip currents are to blame for all three deaths.
Authorities say 54-year-old Mitchell McLean died Wednesday while trying to help a husband and wife struggling in the water. McLean was the chief District Court judge for Wilkes, Ashe, Alleghany and Yadkin counties.
Also killed was 55-year-old Mary Anne Galway of Waxhaw. Authorities say her husband, Edward John Galway III, was treated at a hospital and released.
At Ocean Isle Beach, a 72-year-old Florida man drowned. Officials identified the man as William Nicolaro of Palm Harbor, Fla.
Nicolaro's son made it to shore and was taken to the hospital for treatment.