The body of a missing paddle boarder recovered from Edgartown Great Pond by Massachusetts State Police (MSP) divers on Monday is that of former President Barrack Obama’s former chef, Tafari Campbell.
Authorities identified the victim on Monday as Mr. Campbell, a 45-year-old male who was previously employed by the former first family as a personal chef. He drowned near the former first family’s home on Martha’s Vineyard.
“Mr. Campbell was employed by former President Obama and was visiting Martha’s Vineyard at the time of his passing,” MSP said in a statement. Mr. Campbell was a native of Dumfries, Virginia.
The Obamas were not present at their nearby residence at the time, according to authorities.
The search for the missing paddleboarder began on Sunday after a fellow paddleboarder reported that Mr. Campbell had struggled on the surface, went under, and didn’t resurface.
On Monday, state police announced that sonar from a boat had successfully located the body. It was revealed that the victim, Mr. Campbell, was not wearing a life jacket at the time of the incident, as confirmed by the police.
Shortly before 10 a.m., the MSP Underwater Recovery Unit divers successfully retrieved Mr. Campbell’s body from the pond. The breakthrough came after Massachusetts Environmental Police Officers employed side-scan sonar from a boat.
The recovery operation took place approximately 100 feet from the pond’s shore, at a depth of approximately eight feet. The challenging conditions presented a formidable task for the divers involved in the search and recovery.
The investigation into this unfortunate fatality is being jointly conducted by the State Police Detective Unit for the Cape and Islands District and Edgartown Police. As authorities diligently work to uncover the circumstances surrounding the incident, further details about the cause of the tragedy have not been released at this time.
In a joint statement, Mr. Obama and Michelle Obama expressed their heartache over the loss of Mr. Campbell.
“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,” the Obamas’ statement reads.
The Obamas described Mr. Campbell as a “warm, fun, extraordinarily kind person” who made their 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,” their statement reads. “He’s been part of our lives ever since, and our hearts are broken that he’s gone.
“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,” their statement reads.