Pictures from Chopper 11 HD showed a SUV just under the surface of the water under a bridge.
Investigators said a Chevy suburban hit a guardrail and went over it into the water.
It took crews about three hours to get the vehicle out of the water. When they did, they said they found Jimmie Keel dead inside, still buckled up.
He was an attorney in Tarboro.
Investigators said they believed he simply drifted off the road, then over corrected and lost control as he was coming to the bridge.
A trooper said no other cars were involved.
Officials said a second vehicle - a sedan - that was on top of the bridge with damage was involved in an accident caused by drivers slowing down to see the first wreck.