Former White House chef Tafari Campbell was found dead in a pond off the south shore of Martha’s Vineyard.
Campbell was a personal chef for the Obama family and was near the former president’s home when he decided to go paddle boarding.
Massachusetts State Police say Campbell was reported missing early Sunday evening after going on out on the lake. Accounts say he appeared to be in distress while on the board before going under.
“At 7:46 PM, Martha’s Vineyard police and fire agencies responded to Great Pond in the vicinity of Turkeyland Cove for a call for a male paddle boarder who had gone into the water, appeared to struggle to stay on the surface briefly, and then submerged and did not resurface,” the MSP release reads.
His body was found just eight feet below the surface, about 100 yards from land.
The Obama family wasn’t staying at the Martha’s Vineyard residence at the time but have since released a statement regarding the 45-year-old’s death, recounting how they were first introduced to him and how he continued to work with them beyond Obama’s eight years in the White House.
“Tafari was a beloved part of our 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. 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,” the Obamas said in their statement.
“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 statement continued. “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 State Police Detective Unit for the Cape & Islands District and Edgartown Police are investigating Campbell’s death.
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