Former President Barack Obama’s personal chef, Tafari Campbell, has tragically drowned in the waters near the Obamas’ Martha’s Vineyard estate. Campbell’s body was recovered on Monday morning from Edgartown Great Pond, a day after he had disappeared while paddleboarding.
Massachusetts State Police (MSP) said that Campbell was an employee of the former president and had been visiting the island at the time of the incident. According to MSP, Barack and Michelle Obama were not at their Martha’s Vineyard residence at the time of the accident.
The Obamas released a joint statement in the wake of Campbell’s passing, in which they described him as a beloved part of their family. They recalled Campbell’s initial role as a talented sous chef at the White House, praising his creativity, passion for food, and belief in its ability to bring people together.
Because of their deep affection for him, the Obamas had requested Campbell to continue to be a part of their lives even after their tenure at the White House ended. They expressed their grief at his passing, stating that their hearts were broken. The Obamas expressed solidarity with all those who knew and loved Campbell, particularly mentioning his wife Sherise and their twin boys, Xavier and Savin.
Campbell’s body was found at about 10:00 a.m. on Monday at a depth of approximately eight feet, roughly 100 feet from the shore of Edgartown Great Pond. The body was recovered by MSP divers after Massachusetts Environmental Police officers used side-scan sonar from a boat to locate it.
Authorities initially responded at 7:46 p.m. on Sunday after receiving a distress call about a male paddleboarder who had struggled to stay afloat and then went under near Turkeyland Cove. They said the man did not resurface after that. Another paddleboarder was on the pond with Campbell at the time of the incident and had witnessed him struggle and eventually go under the water.