SUNSET BEACH, BRUNSWICK COUNTY -

The widow of a North Carolina judge who drowned in a rip current says she hopes beach towns will hire lifeguards or put up warning flags to prevent such deaths in the future.

Chief District Court Judge Mitchell McLean, of Wilkesboro (pictured), died on July 3 in a rip current off Sunset Beach. He was one of seven people who drowned in North Carolina and South Carolina on July 3 and 4.

Beth McLean says her husband charged into the ocean to help other swimmers even though he was terrified of water. He got caught in the water and drowned, despite the efforts of others to resuscitate him.

Sunset Beach Mayor Richard Cerrato says he agrees that the town must do more to protect visitors on the beach.

The U.S. Lifesaving Association estimates that more than 100 people die annually in rip currents.