The body of former President Barack Obama’s personal chef was reportedly found to have drowned near the family’s estate on Martha’s Vineyard.
On Sunday, Massachusetts State Police enacted a search for a missing paddleboarder after a fellow paddleboarder said that the man had “struggled on the surface, went under, and didn’t surface,” according to the Associated Press. The man was later identified as 45-year-old Tafari Campbell from Dumfries, Virginia, the personal chef of former President Barack Obama, who had been visiting the home on Martha’s Vineyard. None of the Obamas were present at the time of his death.
“The search was paused late Sunday but on Monday state police said sonar from a boat located the body about 100 feet (30 meters) from shore at a depth of about 8 feet (2.4 meters). Campbell was not wearing a life jacket, police said,” noted the AP.
Campbell’s body was recovered from the Edgartown Great Pond on Monday. According to the Vineyard Gazette, environmental police located his body “using sonar from a boat”:
The investigation into the Mr. Campbell’s death is being conducted by state police troopers with the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office and Edgartown police.
Island police and fire officials conducted door-to-door searches in the wake of the missing persons report, as well as dives late into the night, Edgartown fire chief Alex Schaeffer wrote in a statement to the Gazette.
Firefighters also searched the pond’s shoreline by foot.
“We are deeply saddened by the outcome of this event, but grateful for the massive effort that was supported by our local fire rescue members,” the chief said.
In a statement, Barack and Michelle Obama hailed Campbell as a creative and passionate man whom they considered family.
“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 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.”
Campbell is survived by his wife and twin boys.