Tafari Campbell, who worked at the White House during Obama’s presidency, was visiting the island while the family was away
Barack Obama’s personal chef died while paddleboarding near the ex-president’s home on Martha’s Vineyard over the weekend, Massachusetts state police said.
Authorities recovered the body of Tafari Campbell, 45, of Dumfries, Virginia, from the Edgartown Great Pond on Monday, police confirmed.
Police had been searching the water since Sunday evening after receiving a call about a male paddleboarder “who had gone into the water, appeared to briefly struggle to stay on the surface, and then submerged”. He did not resurface.
Campbell was employed by the Obamas and was visiting Martha’s Vineyard. The Obamas were not present at the home at the time of the accident.
The former president and his wife, Michelle Obama, said in a statement that Campbell was a “beloved part of our family” who worked in the White House and continued on with the family after Obama left office.
“When we first met him, he was a talented sous chef at the White House – creative and passionate about food, and its ability to bring people together,” the couple said in the statement. “In the years that followed, we got to know him as a warm, fun, extraordinarily kind person who made all of our lives a little brighter.”
“That’s why, when we were getting ready to leave the White House, we asked Tafari to stay with us, and he generously agreed. He’s been part of our lives ever since, and our hearts are broken that he’s gone.”
The search for the missing paddleboarder started on Sunday just before 8pm after reports from a fellow paddleboarder that a man had disappeared in the water at Edgartown Great Pond.
The search was paused late on Sunday but on Monday state police said sonar from a boat located the body at approximately 10am about 100ft (30 meters) from shore at a depth of about 8ft (2.4 meters). Campbell was not wearing a life jacket, police said.
The Obamas said Campbell is survived by his wife and their twin boys.
“Today we join everyone who knew and loved Tafari – especially his wife Sherise and their twin boys, Xavier and Savin – in grieving the loss of a truly wonderful man,” the couple said.
(Source: The Guardian)